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Full text of "Plan B Magazine Issue 11"

the concreTes spaffk rock battles the organ tv personalities jack rose 




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Alexander Tucker 

Old Fog 

"A wintery and wonderful new discovery" / 
Time Out. "Lovely and sad, dark yet invit- 
ing" / Other Music. "Tucker's combination of 
mournful voice, sparse instrumentation and 
open string drones make for dark enchant- 
ed listening" / Mojo. "A Lovely and essential 
record" / Vice Magazine. "He demonstrates 
his talent in finding the universal in the 
everyday and beauty in discarded, washed 
up, abandoned and apparently worthless 
things" / The Wire. "Genuinely intoxicating" 
/Spill. 

White Out 

China is near 

"Here again able to boldly pilot their 
freeform clamor toward distant alien hori- 
zons." / Pitchfork Media. "For those inter- 
ested in hearing what it would be like if Sun 
Ra and Miles Davis jammed TODAY with 
Pauline Oliveros and Supersilent." / Other 
Music. "White Out breaks bread with the 
Sonic Youth unsold at shopping malls." / 
Stylus Magazine. 



Bardo Pond 

Selections Volumes I ■ 




IV 



"It's a must for fans of the band, or for fans 
of chilled-out psychedelic musings." / 
indieworkshop. "Herein lies some of the 
band's finest work." / Terrascope. "This is 
most definitely some of the most mind 
blowing, soul soothing psychedelic space 
rock you're likely to hear, EVER." / Aquarius 
Records. "Why the hell doesn't everyone 
know who Bardo Pond are?" / Foxy 
Digitalis. 



% V 



The Drones 

Wait long by the river and the bodies of 
your enemies will float by... 

"Comes running at the wall with an over- 
whelming, ravaged tenderness in the heart 
of the shambolic, raging maelstrom. (4/5 
stars)." / All Music Guide. "Pick of the week 
...combines backwater tension with the 
kind of guitars that career around so wildly 
they constantly sound in danger of falling 
off the CD... combined with the band's 
knack for offsetting the most unrelenting 
noise with wispy melodies, further elevate 
The Drones towards greatness." 4/5 / Uncut 

ATP 3.1 > 

curated by Matt Greening ^». 

"Doh! Ace indie comp from cartoon legend" 
/ NME. "One of the coolest comps around." 
/ Poptones. "A zany, colourful compilation, 
a musical equivalent of 'The Simpson's' 
indeed. 5 stars" / Big Cheese 






YEAR OF THE M0THERFUCKER%3 

JACKIE-O MOTHERFUCKER ON AJP/'^ 







Jackie-0 Motherfucker 

Fig.5 

"One of the most breathtaking junk-histo- 
ries of American music in recent memory" / 
Stylus Magazine. "Giving those who still 
hadn't heard the album a chance to see 
what all the fuss was about" / Almost Cool. 



1 



Jackie-0 Motherfucker 

Liberation 

"Best Avant-Rock record for 2001" / Wire. 
"The consistently amazing quality of 
Jackie-0 Motherfucker is their ability to 
color experimental music and noise with 
more candor and emotional sophistication 
than most turtlenecked troubadour" / 
Pitchfork Media." "Recommended". 4/5 
stars. / All Music Guide. 



i 



Jackie-0 Motherfucker 

Flags of the Sacred Harp 



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"JOMF have crafted something wholly, 
wondrously, their own from the raw materi- 
als of their heritage." 4/5 Stars, 
Underground Album of the Month) / Mojo 
UK. "JOMF have further proved their abili- 
ties to capture a mood to build on and 
slowly away from seamlessly.. .Classic 
JOMF." / Just For A Day. "A phantasmagoric 
career high." 4/5 / Uncut 



'^fet. ^^kj: 




IT RECOR[ 



FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES EVENTS, 
RECORDINGS AND ARTISTS PLUS MUCH MORE... 



WWW.ATPFESTIVAL.COM 




-fX X 



DON'T LOOK BACK CONCERTS PRESENT 





DONnr 






All Tickets are available from 

See Tickets 0871 2200 260 

www.seetickets.com 

Stargreen Box Office 
0207 734 8932 

www. starg ree n . CO m 

www.getlive.co.uk 

www.ticketmaster.co.uk 

www.wegottickets.com 

Venue Box Office 
Hammersmitin Apollo 

Rough Trade Covent Garden 
(selected shows) 


f^DH 









Eimio Morticotie 


Arena Concerto 


^ 




1 * -^ Ik 1 






1 :-^ . jp— 1^ _ 




Ennio Moiricone 



with the Hungarian Orchetsra 

and Crouch End Festival Choms Choir 

PERFORMING 

Original Film Soundtracks from Arena Concerto 

Once Upon a Time in America ^ The Legend of 900 ^ The Mission 
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (txties) ^ Once Upon a Time in the West 
A Fistful of Dynamite * Cinema Paradise * The Untouchables * Novecento 
I Promessi Sposi * The Red Tent * Canone Inverso 
plus more of his classic film scores 

WEDNESDAY 19 JULY 

London Hammersmith Apollo 

QUEEN CAROLINE STREET - LONDON W6 9QH 



Green on Red 

PERFORMING THE ALBUM 

Gas Food Lodging 

TUESDAY 18 JULY 

London Koko 

1A CAMDEN HIGH STREET - LONDON NW1 




Teenage Fanclub 

PERFORMING THE ALBUM 

Bandv\fagonesque 

MONDAY 24 JULY 

London Fomm 

9-17 HIGHGATE ROAD - LONDON NWS 



BY ARRANGEMENT 
WITH X RAY TOURING 




Tortoise 

PERFORMING THE ALBUM 

Millions Now Living Will Never Die 

TUESDAY 25 JULY 

London Koko 

1A CAMDEN HIGH STREET - LONDON NW1 




j::^^^^ 



iX)IW 



PERFORMING THE ALBUM 

Things We Lost in The Fire 

WEDNESDAY 26 JULY 

London Koko 

1A CAMDEN HIGH STREET - LONDON NW1 



BY ARRANGEMENT 
WITH THE AGENCY 




www.atpfestival .com 




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/ ^^Teleganc^, as aching strings lift into piano-led ^ 

I indie anthems, & tempered giiitar lines ring,^^ 

, out amidst-sifting widescreen skies of Simmering 

\ ballads . . . hints of Coldplay & Damien Rice/ 



I fiercey hypnotic debut e.p. ^ ^ 
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Do you care about expectations? 
^Well, it^s not a priority^ 

- Yeah Yeah Yeahs, page 54 



THE VOID 

20-21 1990s 

22-23 Wet Dog, So I Had To Shoot Him 

24-25 Medicine, Gang Gang Dance 

26-27 Singles Club, You Are Hear 

28-29 Ruby Tombs, Glissandro 70, 

Catfish Haven, Killing Joke 

30-31 Thanksgiving, Manic Cough, Quasi 

30-31 Squirrel Records, The Bug 

32-33 Ariel Pink, Jenny Wilson 

36-37 Architecture In Helsinki, Kitchen Cynics, 

The Wedding Present, The Long Blondes, 

38-39 TOUR DIARYTillyAnd The Wall 

40 Love Is All 

114WHY I HATE false metal 

FEATURES 

10-15 The Knife 
16-1 9 TV Personalities 
42-49 Scatter 
50-53 Aphex Twin 
54-59 Yeah Yeah Yeahs 
60-61 The Seconds 
62-63 The Concretes 
64-65 The Organ 
66-67 Spank Rock 



LIVE 

07-08 Battles 

68-69 Jack Rose 

70-71 Euros Childs,TheGrates 

72-73 Kano, Liars, Leopard Leg 

74-75 Broken Family Band, Stereolab 

76-77 The Retro Spankees, Das Wanderlust 

ALBUMS 

78-79 Sonic Youth 

80-81 Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kyler, 

Ghostly International 

82-83 Apparat & Ellen Allien 

84-85 Quasi, mclusky 

86-87 The Streets, Nathan Fake 

88-89 Genders, Mudhoney, Witch 

90-91 The Lappetites 

92-93 The Flaming Lips 

94-95 Delta 5 

96-99 REISSUES Faust, The Jam, 

Talking Heads, Linus, Stereo Total 



MEDIA 

100-103 The rise of the graphic novel 
104-106 FILM Paradise Now, Junebug, 
Forty Shades Of Blue, Glastonbury 
107 GAMES Nullpointe 
108-109 BOOKS The death of the 
online journal 

110-111 DVDShinyaTsukemoto, 
Benjamin Smoke, The Mae Shi 

112 ART Gothic Nightmares 

113 COMICS Alex Robinson, John Porcellino, 
James Kochalka, Adrian Tomine 



planb|5 







THE DEBUT ALBUM OUT APR L 2 . 

INCLUDES "MIND'S EYE" AND THE NEW SINGLE "DIMENSION" 



TAGAN POP GENIUS FROM OUTER SPACE'' NME 

'WOLFMOTHER'S HOWL WILL BE LEADING THE PACK IN 2006" THE FLY 



www.modularpeople.conn 



^^im 



www.myspace.com/wolfnnother 



www.islandtunes.co.uk 





magazine 



This is what's been going through my head the last 
few months: 

"Within tlie montlis between October 1991 tliru 
December 92 1 have had four notebool<s filled with 
two years worth of poetry and personal writing 
stolen. . . The most violating thing I've felt this year 
is not the media exaggerations or the catty gossip, 
but the rape of my personal thoughts. Ripped out of 
pages from my stay in hospitals and aeroplane rides 
hotel stays etc. I feel compelled to say fuck you. Fuck 
you to those of you who have absolutely no regard 
for me as a person. You have raped me harder than 
you'll ever know." 

Notjustthat: skin and flesh and bone and 
scarves and trips up to London and grey cold 
winter afternoons and countless hours listening 
to whatever CD comes to hand - often, the new 
Flaming Lips one, or the new Concretes, or The 
Jam, or Tom Waits, or Netsayi's stunning adrift 
C/7//T?L/renga Sou/ or Australian punk rock or 
McKinley Mitchell or Wet Dog. . .but it always come 
back to this, old emails pilfered from the remnants 
of American computers: 

Krist came in with home movies ofKC doing 
funny KC stuff but also (he was 1 6 at the time) 
pretending to hang himself and pretending to 
have slit wrists. . . 

Also: tiredness and rare fun and mashed-up 
food and bath time and the view over Preston Park 
and severe stress, non-stop stress, stressed-out 
stress, stress caused by deadlines and crying and 
implosion and sleep deprivation and helplessness 
and routine and people and telephones. . .yet still, 
it always comes back to this: 

and i want people to know that kurt was a big 
funnygrump who loved jad fair, i found a fanzine 
of his, or should i say 2 fanzines, one was him 
in love with Tobiandits all pandering to cutey 
people and the other is a we want to open for 
Soundgarden thing and they both have different 
styles of writing... 

CDs are piled up high. Books lie where they fall, 
unread, on the table. Snatches of old conversations 
fail to come back to haunt me. In the background, 
a washing machine hums. My ears ring vaguely with 
tinnitus. Empty envelopes lie scattered on the floor. 
What should I listen to this morning - Candi Staton, 
The Organ, Johnny Ray, Young People, some doo 
wop. The Research, Nirvana, medicine show tunes 
from the Twenties, Elvis Costello, Big Runga...? Is 
there any chocolate to eat? Biscuits? Cashew nuts? 
Maybe I should make myself a cup of tea, read some 
more of one of Hugh Lofting's original DrDoolittle 
books. Has the postman arrived yet? Does the 
washing-up need doing? How about I go out to 
the post office, pick up a newspaper? Oh Jesus, 
is it really 9.57 am already; Christ, I better settle 
down and start writing soon, or this day will be 
a total bust as well. 

Man, I'll be so glad when this period of my life 
is over. 
Everett True 

Plan B and Uncharted Audio present 
Freezepop (icy US synth pop) 
with Schmoof and DJ Kone-r (uncharted audio) 
Saturday 29th April 

Ginglik, 1 Shepherd's Bush Green, London W1 2 8PH 
(underneath the green, opposite the Central Line tube 
station). 8 pm £3 before 1 0:00, £5 after 



Each issue I have to stay up all night in order to edit 
the albums section, and each issue I'm like, I must 
must must do this thing where I take out all the bits 
of the album section I thought were ace and funny 
at two am and put them in the editorial so that 
I don't have to write some shit about how I broke 
my iTunes, and guess what! This time I actually did 
it! Now go read the rest. 

" Now Yeah Yeah Yeahs await a 2 1 st Century John 

Hughes film to soundtrack" 

(Stevie Chick on Yeah Yeah Yeahs) 

"The noisiness of their records is designated by 

whether their name is capitalised on the cover" 

(TheCorpoon Boris) 

"Etiquette is the last thing you need when you are 

on the floor" 

(Pil and Galia Kollectivon Casiotone For The 

Painfully Alone) 

"I hope he's referring to a particularly select group 

of vegetables he's nurtured in his Detroit allotment" 

(Ralph Cowling on Jimmy Edgar) 

"Chantelle Houghton, Kerry Katona and Ian 

Beale in a council flat, surrounded by cheap Asda 

profiteroles and a bowl of primo Welsh mushrooms" 

(Ringo P Stacey on The Streets) 

" Maybe we should have noted that the dancef loor 

anthems building Nathan Fake's reputation all had 

the word 'remix' somewhere in the title" 

(Alex Macpherson on Nathan Fake) 

"I can't listen to anything vaguely melodic/American 

/acoustic/twee/garage-rock/self-consciously weird 

without feeling like a web entrepreneur is giving 

me a reachround" 

(Neil Kulkarni on stuff neither metal nor hip hop) 

"I didn'tfind it unauthored in the middle of 

nowhere, but I really think I should have" 

(Miranda lossifidis on John Maus) 

" Putting your head in these bass bins would be like 

kissing a circular saw" 

(kicking_k on RaxorX Productions) 

"When I got back, I found cigarette burns in the 

sofa and someone pissing in my pot plant" 

(Daniel Trilling on Spank Rock) 

" Most 'stoner rock' can go and blow a fucking goat, 

as far as I'm concerned" 

(Joe Stannard on bands that aren't Nebula) 

" Even a new Mael Brothers tracklisting is a joy" 

(Dickon Edwards on Sparks) 

"Do demon frogs even have lips?" 

(Stewart Gardiner on Todd) 

"Unload the dishwasher and find the sharpest 

breadknife and the tinniest teaspoon you can find. 

Bang together" 

(MissAMPonDeltaS) 

And possibly my favourite. Just for the wonderful 

image it conjures up: 

"From a dainty garden in a leisure centre in 

Somerville, Massachusetts comes this" 

(Nicola Meighan on Sunburned Hand Of 

The Man) 

Frances May Morgan 

Plan B and Eat Your Own Ears presents 
Electrelane 

Wednesday 24th May Doors 7.30pm 

The Luminaire, 31 1 High Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7JR 

020 7372 8668 www.theluminaire.co.uk 

Advance tickets £8 from: www.ticketweb.co.uk Tel: 08700 

600 1 00 www.seetickets.com Tel: Tel: 0870 060 3777 



Editor-ln-Chief: Everett True everett@planbmag.com 
Art Director: Andrew Clare andrew@planbmag.com 
Photography Editor: Sarah Bowles sarah@planbmag.com 

Editor: Frances May Morgan frances@planbmag.com 

Live: Gracelette grace@planbmag.com 

The Void: Stewart Gardiner stewart@planbmag.com 

Emily Graham emily@planbmag.com 

Albums: Daniel Trilling daniel@planbmag.com 

Film & DVD: Nick Bradshaw nick@planbmag.com 
SF Said sf@planbmag.com 
Mark Pilkington mark@strangeattractor.co.uk 

Comics: Alistair Fitchett alistair@planbmag.com 

Art: Pil and Galia Kollectiv pilandgalia@planbmag.com 

Games: Kieron Gillen kieron@planbmag.com 

Books: MissAMPampster@gmail.com 

Publisher: Chris Houghton chris@planbmag.com +44 203 008 71 52 
Assistant Publisher: Richard Staceyrichard@planbmag.com 
Advertising Assistant: Amy Guthrie ads@planbmag.com 
Events: Ahsen Nadeem ahsen@planbmag.com 

Web Editor: Jonathan Sebire jonathan@planbmag.com 
Sub-editors: Gracelette, Alex Macpherson, Daniel Trilling, Robin Wilks 

Contributors: Adam Anonymous, Hayley Avron, Manuel Bang!, Jim Backhaus, 
Chris Ballard, Broken Family Band, Dan Bolger, Melissa Bradshaw, Beth Capper, 
Tom Charity, Mikko Canini, Stevie Chick, The Corpo, Ralph Cowling, 
Dickon Edwards, Ki Ellwood, Jonathan Falcone, Jamie Fullerton, Richard Fontenoy, 
Ana Garcia, Kieron Gillen, The Gossip, Hannah Gregory, Miranda lossifidis, 
Andrew Johnston, kicking_k, Mathew Kumar, Neil Kulkarni, Hope Dickson Leach, 
Andres Lokko, Alex Macpherson, David McNamee, Sophie Mayer, Nicola Meighan, 
Sean Michaels, Henry K Miller, Natalie Moore, Shane Moritz, Doug Mosurock, 
Ben Myers, U Oddman, James Papademetrie, Louis Pattison, Ned Raggett, 
Aaron Shaul, Nadia Shireen, Lee Smith, Daniel Spicer, Ringo P Stacey, Joe Stannard, 
Uanne Steinberg, Lauren Strain, George Taylor, Tilly And The Wall, 
Matilda Tristam, Robin Wilks 

Photographers: 

Lance Bangswww.lancebangs.com 

katie carnage katiecarnage@gmail.com 

CJ Clarke cjclarke@mac.com 

Steve Double www.double-whammy.com 

Patrick Doyle www.ilovepatrickdoyle.co.uk 

Simon Fernandez simonfernandez@eml.cc 

Shirlaine Forrest www.shirlainephotos.co.uk 

Emily Graham lightyears_awaay@hotmail.com 

Steve Gullick www.gullickphoto.com 

Heidi Hartwig www.heidihartwig.com 

Greg Neate www.brightonsmudge.co.uk 

Adrian Nettleship a.nettleship@gmail.com 

Mark Newton www.marknewtonphotography.co.uk 

Rachel Lipsitz pants@littlepants.com 

Owen Richards www.owenrichards.co.uk 

Alice Rosenbaum www.alicerosenbaum.com 

Cat Stevens www.catstevensphotography.co.uk 

Jane Torr ianandjane@mac.com 

Illustrators: 

John Bagnall john@bagpen.fsnet.co.uk 

DavidBaileywww.itsmountpleasant.com 

Booi www.evildo.com 

Jussi Brightmoore jussi@bluedotdotdot.com 

James Daniel www.jamesandrewdaniel.cjb.net 

Tom Eastland tom_eastland@hotmail.com 

PhilElliottwww.elliott-design.com 

Adrian Fleet adrian_fleet@hotmail.com 

Nathan Fletcher www.mybrokenshoe.com 

Richard Forbes-Hamilton www.tallonebehind.co.uk 

French funeralfrench@yahoo.com 

Keith Greiman www.altpick.com/keithgreiman 

Katie Horan www.katyart.com 

Laura Hughes hug.laura@gmail.com 

Miranda lossifidis bleep.bloop.mi@gmail.com 

Lady Lucy www.ladylucy.tk 

Marine www.hellomarine.com 

Scott Monteiro skmonteiro@hotmail.com 

Ben Newman www.bennewman.co.uk 

Marcus Oakley banjo@dircon.co.uk 

Siobhan McWilliams flowers_always_die@hotmail.com 

Mini Padam minipadam@yahoo.co.uk 

Matt Pattinson www.culprit-art.com 

Simon Peplow sidelicateyes@hotmail.com 

Robert Ramsden www.robertramsden.co.uk 

Matt Taylor www.matttaylor.co.uk 

TillThomasTill@tdthomas.de 

Emily Twomey smemnim@fsmail.net 

Vincent Vanoli vincent.vanoli@free.fr 

Daryl Waller www.winterdrawings.com 

Nick White nickbixby@msn.com 

Cover photography: Autumn DeWilde 

Printed by Stones The Printerswww.stonestheprinters.co.uk 

Distribution: 

Lakeside (Newsagents) Worldwide (Borders, HMV, Virgin, overseas) Cargo 

(independent record shops) Dot (Scandinavia) 

Plan B Magazine is published six times a year by Plan B Publishing Ltd 



www.planbmag.com 



ISSN 1744-2435 



planb|7 



An exuberance that almost tips into silliness 



just say yes 

Words: Frances May Morgan 
Photography: Simon Fernandez 



Battles 

The Luminaire, London 

Thethingsldoforyou, dear reader. I'm not talking about going to see 
Battles, Warp's band of the moment, selling out the Luminaire. That's 
no probs. What I mean is, a few days later here I am listening to Yes. 

More precisely, I'm listening to 'Roundabout', which the online 
Yescography tells me is from the album Fragile, 1972. Like most women, 
I've got this far with only the haziest knowledge of this persistent prog 
group, and I don't feel any later-life epiphanies coming on either. 
'Roundabout' goes, "In and around the lake/Mountains come out of the 
sky. . .And they stand there!" (organ: "diddlediddlediddlediddledurri"), 
continuing thus for an eternity. It is pretty grim. 

' im listening to itforthesakeof journalistic accuracy, and it's all 
es' fault. Back at the Luminaire, they're halfway through another 
kinetic, elastic instrumental; chords and rhythmic figures tessellating in 
the air then breaking apart, spinning off and falling like snow. I can't see 
anything over the audience's bobbinqheads, except for John Stanier's 
excessively high cymbal stand, and t''**^''^-^^ — ■' — ^-i-:— '-:--' 
movements of Tyondai Braxton's hec 

I try sneaking a look at the Luminaire's awful flat-screen TV, which 
the venue uses to compensate for its shit layout, but look away again: 
its bleached-out colours are like cold water being poured on your 
synaesthesia, and Battles' music is a treat for the ear/eye interface, 
if not the feet (as has been advertised).J|;ieir music eschews the quiet- 
loud-quiet-REALLYLOUD modus open 

sidesteps the bludgeoning, unfunky r^^Hon of math-rock- both 
genres in which they clearly have rool^^H focus instead on the 
interplay of rhythm and harmony, pasll^pGeas and lines around the 
group so that the focus constantly shifts from player to player in the 
same way that Braxton, Williams and Dave Konopka switch from guitar 
to keyboard to electronics. Their carefully managed euphoria is absorbed 
and absorbing; and there I am, partially absorbed, when my friend 
remarks, "This sounds like 'Roundabout' by Yes". 
, And this is totally funny. Why? Because Yes are funny, with their 
lumpen feyness and horrible album covers and fans who make 
Yescographies; they're shorthand for the worst of English prog, with 
its ineffectual pomp and diddling organs, and much funnierthan King 
Crimson, whom Battles also resemble. It's funny because people are 
going crazy for Battles right now and saying righteous things like Can, 
Fela Kuti, minimalist composition, experimental musicthatwill rock your 
ass, etc, etc, butthey're not saying Yes because that would not be cool. 
It's funny because Stanier used to be in post-hardcore outfit Helmet, and 
Williams used to be in math group Don Caballero, and by comparing 
them with Yes you're drawing a nice Venn diagram between seemingly 
disparate genres whose only similarities appear on the surface to be a 
love for odd time signatures, exclusively male line-ups and audiences full 
of serious young guys taking mental notes as they bob to the 5/4 beat. 

It's funny, but is it fair? On record, no, it's not. Their recently released 
ejection of EPs shows Battles in full control, stripping their sound right 
: and challenging us to join the dots before they transmute it into 
forms. Live, though. Battles' layering of percussive minimalism 

.electronica with heavy jazz-rock is less apparent and therefore less 
impressive: it's fun and loud and almost very exciting, but the tension 
on their recordings is subsumed into bravado and volume. Stanier's 
excellent drumming creates a forcefield within which the rest of the 
band seem to struggle: while the other musicians lean and grimace into 
their kit as if literally yanking notes out of guitars and keys, he moves like 
he means it and like he has to. He would have every right to deck you if 
you called him a progger: the Melvins-referencing cymbal (placed high - 
up so you can THWACK it extra hard) is a pointer to his true colours. 

But Williams, Braxton and Konopka? There are moments when 
the guitars are all firing at once, chasing each other around, with an 
exuberance that almost tips into silliness; and there are moments where 
the keyboards are just a fraction too elaborate and insular, choosing 
mock-sinister, rococo patterns when they should be scaling back and 
opening out and falling into a trance. 

And it remains to be seen whether Battles turn those moments into ^ 
hours and prompt Warp to sign a loadof band^jjhosounda bit like 
Caravan, or choose less over more -and work ou^owto render this 
option live without causing fatal prog pile-ups. I'^oforoptibntwo, 
myself, if only so I don't have to listen to Yes ever again. 

planb|9 








critical beaks 




MY DEMON 




I 



tl 



f * 



Words: David McNamee 
Photography: Cat Stevens 



Beware The Knife: Sweden's new dark stars brandish synths like 
scythes and wield witching-hour beats 



What is your favourite sound? 

Olof: "I really like sound made from rubber. 
Pipes. If you hit that to the floor. I would never do it 
for real, but I have it in mind for electronic sounds. 
Plastic and rubber sounds." 

What is your favourite colour? 

Karin: "Different for different stuff. I like yellow 
a lot." 

There's an unusual and beautiful attention to 
colour in your songs. The synths on 'Heartbeats' felt 
exactly like the bars of colour on the sleeve looked. 
Silent Shout seems sculpted entirely out of grades 
of black. Is that something you talk about. . . ? 

"Yeah, I think we work a lot with colours in the 
music," says Karin. "This5//ent5/70tvtalbumforme 
is very dark. It is dark blue. And black. And... it has 
like hints of other bright stuff in it as well. " 



their identities with masks, or face paint, all the 
more brutal. Karin Dreijer has eyes like two huge 
pools of spring water- distant and still and 
complicated. Olof Dreijer has the big brown eyes 
of a wounded Bambi, by turns excitable and sad. 
Occasionally, when my questioning veers off- 
topic, into lines which they don't understand or 
don't like - questions about pop music, or other 
Swedish artists - they actually look hurt, like I've 
betrayed them. Karin stares hard at the floor, her 
face hard and almost angry with thought. Olof 
looks to his sister sympathetically and sadly. It's 
a weird atmosphere, charged but not unpleasant. 
They seem a bit like kids who wandered into the 
forest and came back 20 years later, full of things 
they couldn't say. You wonder if they ever really 
talk to each other; if they actually need to. 



'I try to make my life outside the 
music more harmonic than I maice the 



music -Karin 



"Lots of white," says Olof. "In the 'Silent 
Shout' track." 

"You think it's white?" She turns to her 
brother and sounds surprised, shocked almost. 
"Small, sparse..." 

"No, but it's like very icy mountains," he 
explains. "Like kids' pictures. I see that. But on 
a very black ground. But I think you're right about 
'Heartbeats'. Those colours are really. . .It is so 
colourful, that album, and that track is really. . .It 
works very well." 

"But I think I try to put more yellow into my daily 
life," Karin pronounces the words slowly in sharp, 
pretty Swedish-English and smiles and laughs. "If 
you see your life only in those colours that we have 
in working with in our music, Ithinkyouend up 
really. . .sick. It's a concentrated work to do music. 
It can't be taking over your whole life because then 
you can't focus. So I try to make my life outside the 
music more harmonic than I make the music." 

"You make my heart go boom boom, " scrolls 
the sign in the Great Eastern Hotel, in deep red 
neon, across the /.ost /-//g/71/i/ay-smooth dark of its 
reception. But The Knife are not in love. 

They're extraordinarily beautiful people - which 
seems to make the decisions to publicly void-out 



Can you explain more about how the two of 
you communicate when you are making music? 
Do lyrical themes feed into the actual sound and 
the way the song is sculpted? How do you express 
that between you? Do you use visual references 
to articulate how you want something to feel? 

Karin: " I think we talk only visual when we 
communicate. We specify colours, materials, 
spaces, weather, what time it is. Mostly nighttime, 
I think, on this album." 

technicolor mirage 

When kicking_k spoke to The Knife for this 
magazine in late 2004, via email, they were high 
in public favour with their 2003 Deep Cuts album. 
Deep Cuts is a classic pop album and a gorgeous 
Technicolor mirage - like abstract, unravelling 
colour made into pop songs. The Knife on their 
breakthrough album were heartbreaking, irrational 
and beautifully synthetic. 

The album went gold, scooped numerous 
Grammies and made an indelible stain on the way 
Swedish pop would be formulated for the next 
couple of years. The influence of Deep Cuts is finally 
seeping through into the UK with the release of 
Robyn's 2003 Knife-produced track 'Who's That 

pldnb|11 



the knife 



Girl?', and Jose Gonzalez's Sony advert- 
soundtracking acoustic cover of 'Heartbeats'. 

When kicking_k spoke to them, they told 
him that the next album - which they had already 
written -would be "body-black-metal-fusion- 
funk", and he thought they were joking. 

5/7ent5/70L/t supersedes The Knife's previous 
three albums by several leagues. It hid in the 
shadows of Deep Cuts and then swallowed its 
light whole. Musically, shards of it had appeared 
elsewhere - motifs and passages from their 
Hannah Med Hannah soundtrack album emerge, 
recontextualised and remade in harder, darker 
materials. The singing, scything synth refrain 
of the title track was previously the glistening 
arpeggio which sliced up the alternate version 
of Deep Cuts' love song, 'Pass This On', into 



have to discuss what that means, because for us the 
forest is scary" . Why do you feel you need to depict 
what scares you? 

Olof : "We just try to make sounds that are 
exciting. Sounds that give a feeling of something 
wrong behind the drapes or far away. " 

Karin: "If you get lost in the woods, which is 
very easy in Sweden, you will die. We don't know 
what to eat, or how to find water, or make fire, or 
anything. And being lost as a vegetarian is even 
worse, I think..." 

The album uses stark terror as a very visceral, 
very emotional material to make more beautiful 
things out of. Like a scream in the forest could be 
beautiful. Like The Knife take all the nightmarish 
things that scare us and use them as a kind of dark 
energy - something that can make you stronger. 



'It's not always vocals who are the 
vocals of the songs' -Karin 



something stronger and stranger, with stitched-up 
scars and a loaded heart. 

But this was a new Knife. An angrier Knife. 

There were warnings in their remix of Stina 
Nordenstam's 'Parliament Square' -where the heart 
of the original is frozen cold and encased in a proud, 
funereal military tattoo; where the song is projected 
out of itself and made into an object that can be 
endlessly, coldly studied as Stina's heavily treated 
words scroll slowly across its surface. Or in the 
reworking of their friend Jenny Wilson's 'Let My 
Shoes Lead The Way Forward', where the skin-thin 
fagade of optimism in the original is shredded away, 
leaving exposed, frayed nerves, wires and spite. 

5/7ent5/70ut sounds fluid, like it's made out of 
a new kind of liquid, with underwater flashlights 
and explosions unravelling slowly in zero gravity. 
All of the songs are character-based, so Karin never 
appears in them, but her voice is used by her brother 
like a new kind of rubber. A material that can be 
bent and stretched and snapped by his machines 
into a choir of different ungendered character 
voices - some are grotesque. 

Silent Shout is sculpted - it's made out of 
nothing buttexture. It has obsidian-black, gunship- 
smooth contours like Airwolf. You can listen to 
it 1 times in a row and not remember any of its 
music, but you'll be left with a deep, intractable 
mood. A sense of unease, or absence, the feeling 
that you've lost something or somewhere. The 
feeling like you've been penetrated by a memory 
-which you can't recall, but which stains your blood 
and your vision, making you think and feel different. 
The feeling of surfacing from a dream that has 
profoundly invaded you and then evaporated. 

The Knife talk about the sound on their new 
album representing wide, open expanses and 
nature. It's not a peaceful or beautiful thing. It's 
a kind of stark terror- like those wide open spaces 
could freeze you or compress you. Blank whites 
and jagged blacks. 

Karin: "I think we, not unlike other people who 
live in cities, are a bit scared of nature. It's so 
biological, it's something you can't control. It's 
something that has its own schedule and takes 
its own time. At the same time, I think somewhere 
in the subconscious, we know that we are doing 
something bad. There is something wrong about 
living so close to other people as you do in cities, 
and taking the underground and going by buses, 
breathing and smelling people you don't know." 

Earlier you said to me, " If I tell Olof that I want 
the music to sound like the forest then we do not 

12 I plan b 



Olof: "I think dark stories can make you stronger. 
They can also make you feel that you're not alone 
with certain feelings." 

Karin: "I agree. Have you ever tried singing to 
yourself if you walk alone in the dark? It makes you 
feel better. Make friends with the forest enemy and 
thou shall not be afraid." 

animal magic 

The recording of 5/7ent5/70Ut began in the cellar 
of a 1 3th Century church in Stockholm. It had 
previously been used to hang animals. The recording 
was abandoned when dust from the rotting building 
started compromising their ability to make music, by 
getting into their lungs and computers. 

There is an impression that The Knife, while 
not necessarily being attracted to viscera as such 
-you'd imagine that the sight of a decoratively 
arranged animal corpse would horrify them beyond 
words - implicate themselves in a kind of violence. 
Maybe a psychological violence, but one that finds 
a very physical expression. Listen to Silent Shout on 
headphones, alone, and you find your fingernails 
tearing intotheskinof your palms, your teeth 
gritting, your whole physiology wound and tense. 

It's something reflected in the duo's nom 
deplume: a knife is something that can release 
you, or that can kill someone, or that can carve 
indelible poetry and blueprints. You can slide it into 
someone's skull and change them forever. The fact 
that the music seems to exist in such extreme ranges 
of the human perspective, while communicating 
with complete clarity and dignity, suggests that, 
lyrically, Karin approaches art like surgery, analysing 
and involving herself in extreme headspaces, and 
then, with complete composure, carefully cutting 
out patterns from that emotional tapestry with 
a scalpel. The music, meanwhile, is titanium-strong 
- unravelling in immaculately, ornately-shaped 
grids that scan like maps. 

"Me and [fellow Swedish avant-pop princess, 
see p35] Jenny Wilson - 1 think we have same 
working progress," Karin says. "I have found out. 
We go very deep into ourselves for a very long time 
and write while making the songs. As deep as like 
we hate ourselves. We work in quite the same way. 
But it sounds very different. " 

This intrinsic attention to the grinding of the 
cerebral against the physical finds an expression in 
the geography of 5/7ent5/70Uf. For The Knife, the 
wide, empty expanses and the forest aren't the test 
of survival - it's acknowledging that you know you 
are going to die. That immense being alone-ness. 







X -•'SH ^d 


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'We try to make sounds that give a 
feeling of something wrong behind 
the drapes' -oiof 



with only your blood in your veins and the time- 
bomb ticking of your pulse for company. The final 
and most pure possible emptying of your mind and 
soul, with no radio interference, just you, and 
your head, ticking down. It's a transhuman state, 
it's complete clarity. 

There isn't an ounce of sorrow anywhere on 
Silent Shout. The lyrics could be manifestos, the 
music could be diagrams - both submerged in 
subterfuge. The songs are funny, sarcastic, bitter 
-political, even. 

What's the angriest music you've ever made? 

"We did this kind of hard techno track for our 
soundtrack album," Olof offers, although he's 
thinking maybe too literally in his response. "This 
track called 'Wanting To Kill'. That was very angry 
and hard." 

" But I don't think it has to be a hard expression 
in an angry song," says Karin, considering the 
question. "I think on our new album there's a lot of 
anger, but it's sung by characters who don't know 
how to express it. I mean, I think those people in 
'From OffTo On' -they should be more angry in 
that song. But they just don't know how to do it." 

It's a kind of submerged anger, on your album. 
Like an anger that's been held underwater. 



"Yeah, I think that's a quite fascinating state of 
being. People like who go to work every morning 
and they are so. . .they can't even talk to each other. 
You used to make jokes about Finnish people and 
people in the northern parts of Sweden as well. 
They don't speak to each other. " 

"They never speak about feelings," says Olof. 

In songs like 'From OffTo On', 'Forest Families' 
and 'We Share Our Mother's Health', there are 
the same circling themes of domesticity. The 
family unit exhibited for what it is: unheimlich, 
incomprehensible, corrupting. They're very dark 
songs. It makes you wonder how this intense couple 
- who apparently couldn't speak to each other 
before they started working together- grew up. 

Can you say what 'We Share Our Mother's 
Health' is about? 

Olof: " I think it's very obvious, so I don't 
wanna tell more about it. But I can say it's a very 
sick, manic song." 

Karin: "It's aboutwhat runs in the family. It's 
a family song to sing by the fireside. " 

abstract delivery 

With their songs so purposeful and specific, but their 
delivery so abstracted, it is difficult to accurately 



decode a meaning for a Knife song. In their current 
mode, it's made harder by the fact that the 'key' 
to the song isn't necessarily the vocal. In the song 
'Silent Shout', for instance: " It's the arpeggio that 
has the main role, which is the main character of 
the song. And the vocals are more like mumbling 
something in the background, not too clear. It's not 
always vocals who are the vocals of the songs. " 

Karin's description of the song is accurate in that 
it takes many listens of 'Silent Shout' to be able to 
piece together the shards of heavily FX-treated 
words, which are smothered and embedded in the 
song. The more you listen, the more fragments you 
pick out and slowly piece together- like recurring 
nightmares and deja vu. It's something you don't 
'hear' so much let it live inside you for a bit, like a 
tapeworm or a thought. 

Similarly, the synaesthetic elements of The 
Knife seem like a kind of masked frequency that 
is as integral to the songs as the treble or bass, but 
that you can't hear and that can only be expressed 
visually. The sleeve art, the videos, the colour are 
used as a kind of drug that needs to be taken in 
tandem with the music. Maybe there are more 
'clues' there: maybe there are themes that Karin 
and Olof want to express in The Knife that are 
harder to express in sounds, and more appropriate 
to express in images. 

How do you know when something is beautiful? 

"You feel sad. " Karin laughs a small, slightly 
self-mocking laugh. "Yeah, I think that's beauty. 
When you feel a bit sad. " 

What is the best music for kissing? 

Karin stares hard and intensely at the floor. 

"No music." 



14 1 plan b 




I 



Constellation sells phonograph records and compact discs. 

Wi dfirivs no r«f enue f^m dotbUa^p accessories, rlngtones, TV ibemeSp buttoDS. posters, liraadcafits, 

endorsements or licensing of any son. We've never been underwritten or sponsored er subslilised. 

We dOttt liy to "plaoe" the music we release anywhere but on ^Iftbs of vinyl and discp aitd we keep aU our 

records in prinL We won't p^y ebain stores in rack our records, or put tkelr Logos in onr lids. We won't pt 

involved bi prioe wars tliat dnjup records as loss loaders bi some larger spergistic tnfotalmnent branding 

strategy- ^^ won^t overproduce or obeapeu or oonspire ^gaSust the survival of the pby^ieal reiii^ord album - that 

tan^hlo. tactile object tkai c^ntain^ real mnsScal fldeUty and artwork and Utile mysteries and messages tlial 

you can look at and nm your hands over and tlUnk about before you turn off tbe li^bts to listen. 

Tbe bicemet and tbe TV and the mobUe-scTecns and the glossy magaMues deliver their Icena, InfoblteSp 

compressions and virtual cemm unities. We embrace anotber set of u topic principles: that physical communities 

Efe f^d by the modOSt and pimple resources It take^ to make small amounts of stuff wjib ipany hands; tbEt Dnf 

means valubig tbe labour of artists and arUsans. printers and prbitmakers. scribblers In tbelr zbies, 

youngsters in their sllkscjeen tog sbeds and old timers In their dusty shops - not the labour of lawyers and 

eoatt^nt managers and marketeers aati UfeStylO Irouiispotters; that punk-rook moans having an analysis^ 

working for a sustainable culture of resistance, critique and celebraUou. and drawing some lines. 

lu these latest darkest, falsest, fakest, emptiest, easiesti escapist times, let's all try harder to reclaim the real 

promise of punk rock: help plant gardens In empty spaceSp stop tosshig coins at the jetset hipster lottery, and 

turn away from starfucklng wblteUgbt overexposure, tbe "just wanna get my music heard byas-manypeeple- 

as-possiblo"' rationalisations K the carnival ttf product placement and la^temaking lomfoolery^ If we OSii't do 

this, as children of privilege with our electdlled guitars and smaity pants ears and faraway warSp tben our 

sad. confused generadon can say we laid right down and let it ail happen, lei's got OK? 




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Words: Andres Lokko 
Photography: Alice Rosenbaum 



Daniel Treacy is not your typical boy. Television Personalities are not your typical band 



The Television Personalities have just released their 
first new album in 1 1 years, My Dark Places. It's 
a harrowing experience: sometimes frustrating, 
sometimes full of life, sometimes full of drunken 
ramblings, and occasionally turning up the sort of 
self-deprecating, soulful love song that singer Dan 
Treacy has become synonymous with over the 
years. The album is clearly informed by Dan's various 
addictions - both drug and alcohol-related - and 
his time spent inside. Dark rumours surrounded Dan 
during the Nineties. Even his closest friends had no 
idea where he'd disappeared to. He re-surfaced on 
a prison boat off the shore of southwest England 
a couple of summers ago, after emailing a fansite 
to let them know he was still alive. 

Swedish MTV2 show This Is Our Music 
- proud purveyor of documentaries on Maher 
Shalal Hash Baz, Careless Talk Costs Lives, Juana 
Molina, el records founder Mike Alway, Circulus 
and Tenniscoats - got to hear about Dan's re- 
emergence, and commissioned a show, shot on 
location in London. It made for painful viewing. Dan 
was more insular and self-hating than even his most 
fervent fans feared, seemingly intent on fucking up 
has latest chance at success, mainly through searing 
honesty - his refusal to play any sort of game at all. 



everything to have a nice girl with me. I'd rather 
be. . .doing dishes for the rest of my days than 
feel this lonely. All I want is someone to share my 
life with." 

He really is trying hard to answer any questions 
to the best of his abilites. But trying to analyse his 
own words and music is against his nature. 

Reminiscing about the road that led to the first 
Television Personalities singles, ' 1 4th Floor' and the 
'Part Time Punks' EP all the way back in the mid- 
Seventies, he seems to remember every detail, but 
the closer we get today, closer to the core of what 
makes his music and lyrics so special, he starts to 
repeat the same sentences all over. Like a mantra. 

Dan just wants someone to share his life with. 
Nothing else really matters. That's all he has to say. 

Which, when you think about it, is what all great 
pop music has always been about. Everything else 
is just a defence mechanism for not daring to come 
across as desperate. Dan is the opposite to this. 
All traces of any defence mechanisms seem to have 
been surgically removed. All you see, all you hear, 
is a lonely man looking for love, finding love, then 
losing it. 

He cringes if you refer to his lyrics as poetry. He 
neversaysso himself but they' re just too important 



funny within the context of pop music. But it'll cost 
you. Few people have paid as high a price for having 
his tongue in his cheek as Dan Treacy. 

Because beneath the Sixties imagery of the 
artwork and album titles like / Was A Mod Before 
You Was A Mod or They Could Have Been Bigger 
Than The Beatles there was a darkness that very 
few wanted - or were even able - to see or accept 
at the time. 

And it just got darker. And darker. 

By the time they recorded The Painted Word 
album in the mid-Eighties, their record company at 
the time. Rough Trade, refused to put it out. They 
thought it was too painful to listen to. It wasn't 
what was expected of this 'funny retro lot'. 

No one bothered to see through the armour 
Dan hade been hiding behind. 

Now, looking back, all you hear is the 
helplessness and the shame. Rarely have songs 
about loss and love been so defenceless and 
therefore so true. It doesn't feel like they've actually 
been written -they're just part of life, they were 
just something that needed to happen. 

When drugs took over Dan's life, he wrote 
a song called 'NowThat I'm A Junkie'. 

Could anyone be clearer than that? 



'Oh, come on. What kind of fucking question is that? iViy 
dark places? You want to know what my dark places are?' 



This is director Andres Lokko's account of the 
time he spent in Dan Treacy's company last autumn, 
filming the documentary. 

Dan, why is the new Television Personalities album 
called My Dark Places? 

"Oh, come on. What kind of fucking question is 
that? My dark places? You want to know what my 
dark places are? Honestly, I don't even know what 
they are. And, anyways, what's my dark places got 
to do with anything?" 

Dan Treacy is sitting in the back garden of 
a friend's flat where he's staying at the moment. 
He's 'between homes'. Armed with a can of lager 
in his hand, he's doing his first ever interview for 
television. Kinda ironic for a man who has been 
recording music under the name of Television 
Personalities for almost 30 years. 

Suddenly, Dan rips off his microphone, shakes 
his head, mutters a million fucks and refuses to 
continue. That happens a lot during the three 
intense days we spend in each other's company. 

This time he sits down on the stairs leading to 
the kitchen and while fighting back tears he, once 
again, tries to explain what's important. This is 
what he always comes back to. 

"I don't give a fuck about music. Fuck the 
fucking music. I couldn't care less about the TVPs. 
I just want someone to love, to be loved. I'd swap 



to be reduced to that. Dan Treacy's lyrics are words 
from the heart, much too personal and real. That's 
why they mean so much to everyone who's ever 
really listened to them. 

I do think they mean the world to him, as well. 
He's just too humble to say so. 

One of his most beautiful and heartbreaking 
songs is called 'Someone To Share My Life With'. 
Yeah, just like he just said. There is no difference 
between the real Dan Treacy and the one who sings 
the songs. But most people, even those who claim 
to love Television Personalities, clearly don't realise 
it. At least they didn't. 

Instead, they'll talk for hours about the TVPs 
supporting Pink Floyd on the back of the 1 980 
'I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives' single, how they 
invented DIY punk and are some kind of godfathers 
of indie aesthetics, obsessed as they were with 
Swinging London imagery when the world and 
his wife went all New Romantic on us and wasn't 
Treacyjust the most ironic songwriter ever? Just 
mocking everyone and everything around him 
without even noticing that he was slipping slowly 
but surely into obscurity? 

It's like they weren't allowed to be taken 
seriously. Seldom has the eternal question 
- does humour belong in pop music? - been more 
accurately directed than in the case of Dan Treacy's 
music. There are few things braver than trying to be 



But did people listen - or even take them 
seriously? 

Of course not. So Dan disappeared; for a while 
he was even presumed dead. Three summers ago 
he turned up. While serving a prison sentence on 
a boat off the shore of south-west England he 
Googled his own name and posted a note saying 
he was OK on a website devoted to his music. 

"It sounds silly, but those months I spent on 
the prison boat outside Plymouth were some of the 
best of my life. They gave me a guitar and I started 
writing songs again for the first time in a decade. 
People seem to think I spent years in prison, but 
I only did four quite short sentences. 

"When I got out they gave me £90 and I went 
straight up to London and spent it all on heroin. The 
next day I called my sister and said, 'Please, be there 
forme.' And she was." 

Something had happened while Dan was away. 
The history of The Television Personalities was being 
revised, rewritten by younger people who were 
barely born when 'I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives' 
came out. They heard what previous generations 
had chosen to ignore. In Dan's music and words 
they found some of the most brutally honest 
descriptions of lost love ever recorded. Confessional 
songs to equal those of Kevin Rowland's, with 
whom Dan shares a Catholic upbringing. 

plan b 1 17 



eievision personaiiiies 



"I went to this Catholic Bible-bashing school 
and every day they banged our heads with 
catholiccatholiccatholicl I hated that, f ""'" 
being bullied and all I wanted was to | 
allowed to be myself." 1 

1? 
To say that a songwriter is wearing his^ni l 

In his sleeve may sound like a complelHiche, 

but in Dan's case it's almost an understatement. 

Spending time with him, talking to him, he 

tears his heart out of his chest and puts it on the 

table. We sit there in silence just watching it 

beatslowly. There's really nothing left to say. 

Once you've felt the naked honesty of Dan's 
songwriting, its deep sadness is impossible to 
shake off. The sadness has always been there, 
for a long time it was hidden behind a mod 
attitude or underthe sweetest melodies until 
the sadness itself was all that was left. 

That's why My Dark Places sometimes feels 
like listening to Dan Treacy's autobiography. It 
maystart light-heartedly, almost up, but it ends 
just like everything does in life itself. Good 
things never last. "'*^ 

"There's no beautiful way to 
more I hate yc 





m 


"1 hope yo^'^WH 

Dan hates me^^W 

confessional or hdJ^M 

they're real. . - M 

"1 wouldn't kndvy4 


way. And what other: 


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ynow. 

bing his songs as 

But he accepts 



'ayisti 

? I'm convinced I'm 
yvy. .. Id KAi^ z>KjKji .. . ^=^1^ tell me, 'You've been 
through heroin addiclon and you battled 
through it', and, yeah|l've been given a second 
chance but I don't fed|proud in anyway. I'm 
ashamed and wish rqjjever done those drugs 



gonna die soon 



ashamedand wish !'( 
in the first place. 

"The only thi^ 
someone telling^ 
so much more to 

www.mtve.c^ 



's important in my life is 
dy love me. That means 
an fucking rock'n'roll." 



^ 



'I don't give a fuck about music. Fucic the fuelling music. I'd 
swap everything to have a nice girl with me' 




Dan Treacy with Television 
Personalities bassist Ed Ball 




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the void 



1990s 

Words: Stewart Gardiner 
Photography: Patrick Doyle 



"Likes, dislikes? Likes: talking. Dislikes: listening. And my hobbies are running, 
swimming and jumping." 

Jackie McKeown has just offered up his own set of interview questions. 
Perhaps I haven't been asking the right ones; maybe I should think about giving 
up the vagueness of conversation. In other words: less chat, more 60-second 
soundbites. 

"I like cheese," says Michael McGaughrin. "But I don't like cheese slices: 
too rubbery." Hey, it's OK, I'm still right there with them. 

Of course, I shouldn't have expected anything less from two founding 
members of The Yummy Fur and a V-Twin dude. Jackie is indeed John 
McKeown - the name change is to do with JFK, he tells me; further explanation 
is not given - of that legendary underground art pop Yummy Fur lot, and 
he is unsurprised when I see him in Mono and he clicks that it's me doing 
the interview. Bound to be someone at least one of them knew. 

It is Glasgow after all. 

If you've lived in this city for any length of time and are into, like, music and 
stuff, then you will know at least one person from Mogwai, The Yummy Fur or 
Franz Ferdinand. It may come as no surprise that the boys have supported Franz 
a couple of times, but they point out that it has little to do with them knowing 
each other. 1 990s are the band being talked about with most glee - and much 
expectation - round these here parts, just now. I kinda know John - sorry, Jackie 
- through a friend who lived in the same flat as him years back, but I hadn't seen 
him for ages until their Hogmanay gig. I was understandably rather drunk that 
evening, and will have to make sure and catch them at Triptych in April. 

Expectations can be funny, unpredictable things, and what I brought to that 
New Year gig was the notion that this was John Yummy Fur's new band. This 
idea would be shattered during the course of their show, and I admit I was at 



'I've done one interview 
and I'm bored of telling 
the story' 



first left a little bewildered. Where had all the angles gone, and where exactly 
had the homosexuals and clowns disappeared to already? Their MySpace 
page perhaps nails the difference - in place of a suggestive modus operandi 
they have: 'Three guys, a guitar, a bass and a drumkit.' Hardly revolutionary, 
but that's part of the point. And so you have Jackie on vocals and guitars, 
Michael on drums and vocals, and Jamie McMorrow on 'bass - only'. 

"There was a band before there was music. We got together - how did 
we get together? " Jackie muses before letting the first of many sharper-than- 
me deadpan comments drop. " I've done one interview and I'm bored of telling 
the story. No," he continues, righting himself. "We, eh - Damo Suzuki from 
Can came to Glasgow to play a gig. And somebody I knew that knew him 
was sort of given the job of organising the bands. And we ended up kinda all 
getting roped into it, for one reason or another.We played the gig and it was 
really good." 

"We were sort of kicking about at parties, getting crazed and just coming 
up with some silly songs," adds Michael. 

So what inspires you to make the music you're doing now? 

"Having fun, parties," says Jackie. "All the songs are really optimistic. None 
of them are about moaning about anything. " 

What are they about? 

"Having a good time, girls." 

"Drugs, parties," offers Jamie. 

Jackie runs with the idea. "Drugs, girls, parties. Good stuff, honestly." 

Does that separate you from a lot of the music out there? 

"I think it leaves everybody behind. It's just us - and U2. Again, I don't know 
- not really, not really. What we're about is having a good time singing - we're 
not unique in this." 

But they're unique in carrying it off so well, you will argue. And so will Geoff 
Travis. Rough Trade were interested in signing 1 990s after hearing the demo, 
yet Geoff further stipulated that they would have to make him dance, and 
dance he did - praise his nimble feet! The first fruit of this will be ace single 
'You Made Me Like It', a twisting, turning artsy rock'n'roll classic that will make 
your feet move and your mind smile. I'm saying Springsteen's 'Hungry Heart' 
revved up by post punk, but then what do I know? 

http://1990s.tv/ 



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plan b 1 21 



the void 




wet dog 

Words: Everett True 
Photography: CJ Clarke 

I'm tongue-tied. I don't know where to look. I feel myself 
blushing. I'm besotted, bewildered, bewitched. I'm beside 
myself with pleasure. My New Favourite Band, Wet Dog are 
recording live on my living room, banging stilettos and toy 
tambourines and hippo maracas. Piano drowns the gorgeous 
off-key female harmonies and smothers the necessary 
silence, so we try them up close and on Casio. It sounds 
like the ghosts of antique furniture saleswomen laughing. 

When I was 1 7, 1 heard The Slits' 'Shoplifting' and it 
made me want to move up to London, all the squeals and 
screams and panting and invitations to riot. I moved and hid, 
frightened, on tube trains and on grass verges in Ladbroke 
Grove. Now I'm 44 1 want to move back there. I've heard 
Wet Dog's 'Steal A Car' - a minor symphony of fluffed 
beats, chromatic harmonies and silence used as a musical 
instrument - and for the first time in two decades, it seems 
like other folk are having more fun than me. It makes me 
feel wanton and needy- needing to smile and cast oblique 
shapes in the air, one-legged. I can't listen to Wet Dog 
without hearing a smattering of desultory applause. 

I'm not saying Wet Dog sound like The Slits. They don't. 
Wet Dog are way more like The Birthday Party, and there's 
a riverbed of difference between the two bands. And they're 
more like The Raincoats anyway, but only cos they're similarly 
refined, art school, in a wonderfully shabby, literary way. 

"Why am I in Wet Dog?" repeats Rivka (vocals, guitar). 
"It's fun, primarily. I like the sparseness and the interplay 
between instruments, and the gaps." 

" I wonder if there's any way of being a proficient 
drummer, just for the confidence of it, and then scrapping it, " 
ponders bassist Sophie. " I wonder if it's possible to come 
back once you've gone that far. " 

" . . . " agrees Sarah (drums). " I like Datblygu, Country 
Teasers. I hate A/M^bands- they're all boys, they all wear 
skinny jeans, they've all got hairdos and they all act very 
rebellious. Manufactured music masquerading as rebellion. 
At least teenybopper bands are what they say they are. " 

When I was 26, 1 saw NYC female deconstructionist 
noise trio UT 45 times in one year, alongside my mate Geoff 
The Postman. Now, it appears Geoff is Wet Dog's Number 
One fan - " He even grades our shows, " smirks Sophie 
- and I've been left trawling through the dirt. 

In 1 5 years time, the next generation's Kurt Cobain 
will be writing sleevenotes to his band's albums that 
mention at length visiting an auto-repair shop, bumping into 
Sophie and loving Wet Dog. And most of you stupid fuckers 
won't have checked them out when you had the chance. 

Stupid fuckers. 

wetdogmusic@gmail.com 



SO i had to shoot him 

Words: Joe Stannard 
Illustration: Tom Eastland 

When was the last time an album liquified your skull then 
stretched it out to the size of a school crash-mat before 
sprinkling sugar on it and performing cartwheels all over the 
mashed-up remains of yr brain? I'm guessing it's been a 
while. I rarely complain about a band receiving too little hype, 
but really. The debut album by NYC's So I Had To Shoot Him, 
Alpha Males And Popular Girls, was released by Crucial Blast 
late 2005 and unfathomably, the world has refused to spin 
off its axis and hurl itself into the sun. Fucking stupid world ! 
So I Had To Shoot Him mangle pop music in delightfully 
unexpected and violent ways, and deserve your unequivocal 
love, loyalty and cold hard cash. I conducted an interview 
with The Fantasticality (guitars), Medicineshow Bunny (bass), 
Libby (vocals; keyboards) and Dan (drums and percussion) 
and after reading their answers, I immediately wanted to 
adoptallfourofthe little blighters. 

Your album is entitled Alpha Males And Popular 
Girls. Were you the bullies or the bullied at school? 

Libby: "Well, first off, I wouldn't say that the album title 
is interpreted that way: it's more a euphemism for living in 
New York and surviving here. Each clan has their own version 
of what makes an alpha or popular leader. That being said, 
we all have very different backgrounds and lifestyles, so 
what makes one an 'alpha' is substantially different. I was 
an athlete and honors student. Neither bully or bullied. How 
do the rest of us answer that question? We are all so very 
different and I think always stood by our internal values set." 

Can you explain the concept of 'Sex Metal'? Is it 
in opposition to Ville Vallo of Finnish goth-metal 
band HiM's 'Love Metal' or can they co-exist happily? 

The Fantasticality: " Love and sex are diametrically 
opposed. The 'Sex Metal' epithet (christened by Prince 
Kodiak, ex-guitarist and founder member who tragically died 
in February of this year) was originally used to describe the 
sensibility of our music; there are pervasive grind, thrash, 
rock, and metal elements, but at heart it's uncompromisingly 
sexy and violent." 

How much do you love Yes, ELP and Genesis? Do 
King Crimson get special dispensation? 



Medicineshow Bunny: "Oh man, I love Yes. 'Owner Of 
A Lonely Heart' is classic, sheer genius. It speaks to me. Plus, 
where else can you get 1 7-minute long songs about storm 
troopers and eagles using circle progressions that have ,'The 
same intrigue as a court of kings?' That's right: nowhere." 

The Fantasticality: "Crimson is sweet; 'Red' is 
a tits record." 

Yay, tits! There are times when your music 
reminds me of a sped-up Celtic Frost circa 1 985's 
To Mega Therlon. Is Tom G Warrior aka Thomas 
Gabriel Fischer a big influence? 

The Fantasticality: "Innumerable bands are indebted to 
Mr Fischer for his innovative brand of metal. I know that 
Prince Kodiak was especially fond of Celtic Frost, and so am I. 
As for the rest of the band, we were most likely influenced in 
some degree by some band that was inspired by Celtic Frost." 

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Medicineshow Bunny: "Twiggy Ramirez and Hector 
Berlioz (he was a stalker). And Franz Liszt: he was badass." 

Libby: "Rachmaninov." 

The Fantasticality: "Prince, hands down. I proclaim this 
with no tincture of irony: the man is a goddamned genius." 

Libby, you have excellent enunciation! Do bad 
grammar and diction get on your nerves? 

Libby: " I was formally and classically educated to be an 
operatic singer, so part of that education shows through in 
the enunciation. It helps with the shaping of the vowels and 
with proper breath support. Go to the opera and see how 
they enunciate. Bad grammar makes Libby a crazy woman." 

Matt Gibney aka Prince Kodiak passed away 
very recently. How are you doing after this loss? 

The Fantasticality: "Matt Gibney was one of my best 
friends, and he was my musical partner for over 1 2 years. 
I've been in countless bands with him, and in each one 
he did something completely unique. Months before his 
death. Matt departed from the So I Had To Shoot Him fold, 
and we toured and continued on without him. We all miss 
him dearly. We are still shaken by this recent tragedy. " 

I couldn't help but notice you thank me (" . . .and 
YOU ! ") on the album's Thank You list. That's really 
nice and all, but what did I ever do for you? 

The Fantasticality: "You conducted this interview! " 

Oh, yeah. I did. Hey, y'know... anytime. 

www.soihadtoshoothim.com 



22 I plan b 




i\i en ifl UiHEII THE (50ll]e 
XjlJriv^l 6ETO IWK 



'^^ •' r. 






^* jg^ Swirling, layered & psychedelic, 

/% ^» Quasi are back. Produced by the band 
^1^— -*•► ^ mixed by Dave Friddman 

(The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev 
& Sleater-Kinney) 







CD & LP out now 

www.dominorecordco.com | iSmiim^I 




ARCHIE BRONSON 

OUTFIT 

'DERDANG DERDANG' 

CD & LP / 03.04.06 



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'AMBER' 

CD & LP out now 



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the void 



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Mefliene 




^ 



Like Amon Duul mashed with iViadonna, 
experimental chaos and disco colliding 



music that time forgot: medicine 

Words: Fiona Fletcher 

The first time I saw Medicine, they dropped like 
a Paisley-clad grenade into the tiny town where 
I'd been gobbling drugs and reading Keats to 
cornfields out of sheer boredom. They exploded 
onstage, acid-fried and sunbaked, spastic blasts 
of psychedelic noise guitar punctuating woozy 
boy-girl harmonies and hypnotic, hammering beats. 
Fresh out of rehab, doped to the eyeballs on anti- 
depressants, I blissfully discovered that noise itself 
could be a drug, the relaxing and mind-expanding 
effects of overpowering, oceanic sound. Medicine 
were my aural equivalent of lithium, shimmering 
and dense, like being wrapped in layers of cotton 
wool while, just outside the threshold of hearing, 
a 200-piece orchestra played, an overwhelming 
hallucinogen hum of sewer-suckers making the 
entire length of the 1-90 vibrate like an organ pipe. 

Although their first album {Shot Forth Self Living, 
1 992) was pure shoegazing, indebted to MBV, 
something in the mastering of Medicine CDs 
made them so much blisteringly LOUDER than other 
bands that you expected the plastic to be twice as 
thick. By their second album, ^ 993' s The Buried Life, 
they were reaching their creative zenith, attempting 
to fuse the chimeric strands of Seventies prog 
and cheesy bubblegum pop, all drizzled with the 
frenetic fuzz of 'The Shit Guitar'. (Apparently, 
songwriter/mastermind Brad Laner would stick this 
in the studio, turn it on, and let it play itself.) Sure, 
in the early Nineties everybody wanted to be 
"rave music with Rickenbackers" but this wasn't 
Dl Go Pop, this was like Amon Duul mashed with 
Madonna, experimental chaos and disco colliding. 
'Never Click'. 'Slut'. 'Fried Awake'. These songs 
were challenging and aurally astonishing, yet 
accessible, danceable, and very, very sexy. 



Her Highness (1 995) was both their best and 
worst album. Monolithic slabs of prog expanded to 
encompass fractured dub. Paisley Park psychedelia 
and even Euro-trance. 'Candy Candy' was a warped 
deconstruction of contemporary pop, starting as 
an anodyne r'n'b ballad, until the song just. . .melts, 
like a dose of acid reverberating through Motown. 
Plumes of feedback, Indian strings, George Harrison 
surf sitar- it's like a flashforward to Britney Spears' 
1 994 'Toxic'. But collaborations with Cocteau Twins 
and cameos in Hollywood movies followed; the 
band split; and Brad Laner disappeared to record 
'Is that the cat?' experimental noises for a decade. 

Many psychedelic bands strip off their Sturm und 
Drang, and turn into a Disney soundtrack - Mercury 
Rev, Flaming Lips, Spiritualized have all disappointed 
in turns. But in 2003, Medicine reappeared with 
a new singer and new equipment. The Mechanical 
Forces Of Love had no more "Shit Guitar"; it was 
Brad Laner plus a laptop. And the 13.7 billion 
textures wallpapering his acid-fried BRANE. 

Computers allowed him to map unknown sonic 
landscapes he previously heard only in his head. 
Instead of just abusing his guitar, he manipulated 
sound itself, slicing and dicing it into a psychedelic 
fan of texture. Rather than slabs of sound, there 
were overlapping layers, intricate arrangements 
of hundreds of voices, close harmony vocals 
reminiscent of Prince at his most baroque. The 
music could be shiny-smooth and abrasively rough; 
pristine electronics chattered above dirty explosions 
of sub-bass. Sixties gar-aaahge guitars and UK 
garridge beats. Episodes of harmonic loveliness 
gave way to electronic filth and drum machines 
flammed to breaking point, the creaking sound of 
straining microprocessors married to the fearsome 
fuzz of a maxed-out amp. Regardless of the 
medium. Medicine's music was always on the knife- 
edge, at the breaking point, yet always perfect pop. 







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in the mix: gang gang dance 

Guo Yi & Guo Yue - Ancient Battle 

This is a little Limewire treasure I found when I typed in 

'China'. It's got a Wu-Tang vibe, but I made it my own 

throwin' an Aaliyah accapella over the top. 

Amar Mohile - Aware Man Mein 

This is from a Hindi film called Naach, sung by Shweta 

Pandit. I love the big atmosphere and the melodrama, 

real dark and wet sounding - serious. 

Speedy ft Lumidee - Sientelo 

I saw a video for this track in Berlin of all places, on the last 

day of our European tour, and couldn't wait to get home. 

Souad Abdullah - (unknown title) 

Iraqi underground, via The Sun City Girls. 

Low Deep - Never See Me Fall 

I'd love to hear Nas spit over it. . . 

Bobby Valentino - Tell Me 

Blissed is one of my favorite words. 

Spank Rock - Touch Me 

Definitely the next wave. I think he's in NY now, but 

I love the way Baltimore and Philly inspire his visions. 

Eric B & Rakim - Casualties Of War 

I lived four blocks from the World Trade Center and 

I thought I was dead about five times on 9/1 1 . Yet even 

when I was about to die, this song kept playin' in my head. 

Benchenet Hourari - Malika 

This song is like every song, ever, playing at once. . . 

Assassin - Don't Like You 

I know Sean Paul did it again with this track, but 

Assassin's got the lyrics on this one. 

Francis Bebey - Forest Nativity 

Born again, but this time. Don't be scared . . . 

J-Dilla-Bye 

For Nathan. 

(Tim Dewitt) 



° /T^rfH'\^?«JJ^"^:i^ 



ADYFUZZ 



C 



^ LADYFUZZ 
I KERFUFFLE 

ffie new album 
aut april 3rd 

imtuies the singles "monster' 
\ and "bounty ball' 






24 1 plan b 



EUROS crairs 




EUROS CHILDS 

Chops 

his solo debut album 

IN SHOPS NOW ON CD AND LP 

"delightful solo debut" 
-SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 

"reflective, distinctive and fun" 
-THE OBSERVER 

New single, 'Costa Rita', 
released on 7" on April 17th. 

www.euroschilds.com 




COMING SOON: 

'Young Folks' the new single, and 'Writer's Block' the new album from PETER, BJORN AND JOHN 



THE DRIPS 

The Drips 

The self-titled debut album from 
THE DRIPS in stores April 24th. 

Features members of The Bronx, 
Distillers and Los Lobos. 

"It's pretty good..." Chazz Honeycut 

Debut single 'Broken' out April 10th 

www.thedrips.com 

The Drips on tour, April 2006 

23 - Manchester, Roadhouse/ 

24 - London, Barfly / 25 - York, Barfly 



www.wichita-recordings.com 




I. 




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SCHNEIDER TM 



I 







THE MOST SERENE REPUBLIC 

Underwater Cinematographer 

The album - In stores now 



JASON COLLETT Idols of Exile 

The album - In stores now 



AMY MILLAN Honey From The Tombs 

The solo debut album - June 5th 



Jason Collett and Amy Millan play an Arts & Crafts night at Dingwalls, London on May 30th 

A split single featuring Amy's 'Losing You' and Jason's 'We All Lose One Another' is released May 29th 




^yur\AJlM) xJljjAr 



Words: Miss AMP 
Illustration: Keith Greiman 



^/ Men, robo" 



robots, xylophones. That's what it's all about 



Men. Aw. They're all so different. Look at this one. Slumped at the table, 
three-day stubble, bleary eyes. Red rims and a yellowish film creeping across the 
irises. He lays his face in his hand and the weight stretches his cheek back. He's 
muttering, so she's leaning in close, but her head's turned to one side because 
of his breath. "Do you know enough to circle me a 'yes'?" he implores in a thick 
Glasgow accent. "In just three minutes, can I suitably impress? Why don't we 
ignore the whistle? Just a look - a smile - a kiss' II tell you all you really need to 
/enow. "That's right, folks. Legendary misanthropes and romance-o-phobes 
Arab Strap are going speed dating. And they don't like it one bit. In 'Speed- 
Date' (Chemikal Underground) Aidan Moffat's vocals are buried beneath 
a cascade of piano, guitars, strings and horns - none of the minimal drum 
machines of yesteryear - so it's harder to hear what he's saying. But dig 
beneath the noise and he appears to be engaged in an anti-dating-industry, 
pro-monogamy diatribe. Fuck swinging, self-help books, speed dating, he is 
saying. Only connect. Bless. Have Arab Strap lost their fear of commitment? 
Time will tell: the thirties can weaken the hardiest of bachelors. Apart from 
those who live in Brighton, of course. 

Prefer a different masculine flavour? Look over here. Dan Sartain I will. 
I would. There's something going on with the men these days, this Fifties thing; 
spivvy and that. Mmm. How very. It's definitely to be encouraged. Men should 
dress up, the fat lazy slobs. I think it started in the States and spread here via 
Glasgow (cf Franz Ferdinand, Sons And Daughters). I'm not quite sure who the 
boy was who imported it over here, but I'd like to find that boy and shake him 
bythe penis in a gentle, congratulatoryfashion. And then I'd direct him towards 
Dan Sartain, a 21 -year-old rockabilly from the Deepest South of the USA who's 
got the whole 'tache'n'tats thing down pat. 'Walk Among The Cobras Pt 1 ' 

26 1 plan b 



(One Little Indian) is a perfect soundtrack for all those new little dandy-type boys 
to get dressed up to: sleazy psychobilly rock'n'roll music, dirty and pure and old- 
style glam all at once. It sure is a good look. 

It's not all about the men, of course: The Chalets try a bit of that he said/ 
she said on their re-released 'Theme from Chalets' (Setanta): a double-date 
night out seen from both sides of the gender divide. It's great fun, of course, 
but more of a concept single (can there be such a thing?) than the luxurious 
goodtime booze-sprawl of pastfaves like 'Nightrocker' or 'Sexy Mistake', and 
therefore not entirely engaging. . . 

Unlike My Robot Friend. Fucking YEAH ! Anything that starts out with 
xylophones and big electronic beatings and hyper-processed guitar riffs has 
to be good. '23 Minutes In Brussels' (Soma) is a cover of a song by Luna (Dean 
Wareham's post-Galaxie 500 band - keep up at the back, boys) - a song which 
was itself inspired by a Suicide show in Brussels in 1 978 that culminated in 
a riot. It's pretty awesome electropunkhouse stuff, with a great Beach Boys 
echo to the vocals. Also, the remixes include the chance to indulge in an 
air-xylophone workout, thanks to an extended xylophone solo. GET IN ! 
Single of the month. 

From robots to. . . robots: here are Das Wanderlust with a track called 
'I Wish I Was A Robot' (Don't Tell Clare). They mix real life thrashy drums with 
enthusiastic, noisy synths and excitable, angry female vocals. The singer wishes 
she was a robot because this boy made her feel ugly and he didn't love her and 
she bored him and he said she was crazy and she IS crazy, over him, which sucks, 
and she wants out. 

The best bit's when it's like she just runs out of words and goes "and. . . 
ooohAUGH!"W\th a little catch in her voice like she's so exasperated she just 



can't speak. Like, I dunno, a furious Kenickie with the synths of Helen Love and 
the energy of The Banana Splits. Pow! 

Onto Mr Sexor himself, Tiga, with six remixes of '(Far From) Home' (PIAS). 
It's kind of cheesy, kind of Eighties. Home sounds like it's got a lot of shag 
carpeting, which is all snuggly on Tiga's toes (which he shaves - the toes, 
I mean, not the carpet). It's a great end-of-the-night record. The 1 0-minute 
DFA remix is everything you'd expect from a 1 0-minute DFA remix, although it 
does mean that the staggeringly cheesy and fab chorus is subsumed under lots 
of other noises, which are all totally cool and ace, but sometimes you're just like, 
"Give me the sugar", you know? 

And seeing as we're on a DFA tip here how about the new single from 
Shit Robot, whoever they are. The A-side's a bit dark techno: spooky and 
intense yet boring at the same time, like an un-f it depresso-boy, but the B-side, 
'Triumph' (DFA), is interesting. There's this loping drumbeat that sounds like 
a horse cantering into a studio, only wearing bongos instead of horseshoes. 
Then there's a bit of happy-go-lucky guitar strumming, but the sequences 
and patterns don't shut up or anything, they all just co-exist. It's excellent! 
Other single of the month ! 

And from DFA to DFA1 979 (smooth !), because Jesse F Keeler has 
taken some time off from being in the hottest band alive to release his 
electrohomodisco side in a band called MSTRKRFT, and it is pretty fucking 
manga, if you know what I mean -and Ithinkyoudo. 'Monster Hospital' is 
a throbbing pulsing electrohandclap beast of a song, with a lady wheedling 
at someone to "Hold my arms down. . . I've been bad, " etc - Jesus, is there 
anybody around who ISN'T into the rough stuff these days? -while 'Easy 
Love' is just a fucking anthemic orgasm of synths and vocoder and handclaps 
that makes you want to do aerobics on the sofa and cartwheels down the 
hall before raping the postman on the third-floor stairs. Third-to-top single 
of the month! 

Hot Chip's new single also opens with xylophone sounds, and therefore 
is obviously brilliant. 'Over And Over' appears to be an ode to the joy of 
repetition in both form and content, and it's pretty glorious, a charity shop !!!, 
lazy and urgent at the same time, like a stoner lecturing you from a hammock 
as kick-drums and funk keyboards flap around in the mix like waggling hands 
in front of your face. 

Men should dress up, the 
fat lazy slobs 



How sweet is little Mike Skinner? Mikey the confessor, with his lager-fuelled 
tongue and demotic hard-edged guttural stutter; autistically addicted 
to the truth, getting told off by his manager for doing stuff that has 'industry 
repercussions', blabbing about drugs and what it's like being famous, but not 
in a wanky way, all over an excellent backdrop of what the press release calls 
'pristine Baile funk'. The Streets' 'When You Wasn't Famous' (679) is a fine, 
funny, honest record, and Mikey is still one of us, moaning because he's got 
to unroll his banknotes so the press don't notice, moaning because he can't 
do a line in front of strangers because everyone's got cameraphones, marvelling 
how amazing his celebrity girlfriend looks on CD:UK, considering how much 
prang she's done; and, famous or unfamous, still unlucky in love. Aw. 

Last but not least: who is Jeff Klein? I don't know, but he's blatantly 
a cunt, if the sleeve artwork of 'Kiss And Tell' (One Little Indian) is anything 
to go by. The artwork shows lots of photos of the (dark-haired, dishevelled, 
dirtysomething) singer making out with a girl in a photo booth. Only then you 
look more closely and realise that these are four strips, four different girls, four 
different days. Imagine if you went out with him! You'd belike, "Wow, I have 
metthis lovely boy, and he likes me too, and I am so special to him, and didn't 
we have the funnest time making out in that photo booth -wow, he is so 
spontaneous and cool and kerrayyyzzeeee ! ! ! ! " And then some day after you 
had broken up (he dumped you), you'd be having coffee, and he'd be like, 
"Oh, hey, AMP, I finally made that album I was always talking about, and, you 
know, I put you on the cover" . And you'd be so pleased, and then he'd hand 
it to you, and then you'd see that you were just one of these make-out photo 
strips, and your jaw would drop as you looked at the other girls, and maybe one 
of the other girls would even be your friend or something, and he would lean 
back in his chair and smirk, enjoying your pain, making sure his jeans stretched 
tautly across his area just so's you'd remember what you were missing, and 
you'd be, like, completely aghast. That would be so dreadful ! If I was a man, 
I'd totally do stuff like that all the time ! 

Anyway, luckily for Jeff, 'Kiss And Tell' is a greasily decadent, sleazily 
romantic slice of Cohen-esque heartbreak music, sung in a voice that's rougher 
than the edge of a pack of Swan Vestas across that tender part of your throat, 
and that's a good thing. So I suppose we ought to forgive him. 

But still. Be careful, men. The jury's out. 



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'ord's: Jim Backhailj Jf !■*.*' ■ S^\ 
jstration: Richard Forbes-Hamilton 



Spinmaster Plantpot vs Smack 
Miranda - Hello Spinmaster 
(Bubblewrap Industries seven- 
inch) Smack Miranda is one half of 
retro-rave duo and former Altern-8 tribute 
band Liberation Jumpsuit. Joined on the 
telephone by pint-sized MC Spinmaster 
Plantpot, they collude in creating a super- 
dumb junglist scum-rave anthem. 
Melodie Du Kronk-Telexus 
(www.myspace.com/connecttables) 
Melodie Du Kronk are a group who 
specialise in fake psychedelic library 
music with krautrock leanings. 
William C Harrington -The 
Overture (from Urban Electronic 
Music Angry Vegan, 
www.myspace.com/williamcharrin 
gton) Equal parts Wendy Carlos and scary 
French electro-acoustic music, this is a 
veritable snowstorm of glacial feedback 
and baroque electronics. 
Jimmy Edgar - My Beats (from 
Colour Strip, Warp) Hyper-shiny 
electrofunk from young Canadian 
Timbaland obsessive with his own clothing 
line. Shimmering cold surfaces refract the 
vocodered voice of an asexual Rick James 
for the post IDM generation. 
Belbury Poly- Farmer's Angle 
(from The Willows, Ghost Box, 
www.ghostbox.co.uk) Ghostbox exist 
to haunt the present with reforgotten 
memories from the recent non-existent 
past. This track collides Radiophonic 
Workshop analogue burps, session 
musician jauntiness and pastoral 
melancholy. 

Puyo Puyo - Disco Jyta (from the 
'Love And Furry' EP, Ego Twister) 
DIY absurdist 8-bit disco from France. 
This guy spends half his life on MySpace 
and the other half making warped, catchy 
Dada electropop. 

Alexander Robotnick- Krypta 1 
(from Krypta 1982: Rare 
Robotnicks #2, Creme 
Organisation) As well as producing 
classic Italo-disco numbers such as 
'Problemes d'Amour' and 'Dance Boy 
Dance', Robotnick ran the Fuzz Dance 
label, turning out some of the greatest 
synth wave/hi-nrg gems. 



The Fire Engines - Discord (Domino 
seven-inch) Makes you want to 
box Alex Kapranos's ears while 
simultaneously being grateful that had 
they not spent their careers slavishly 
trying to replicate it no-one would have 
bothered reissuing any of this stuff. 
Gina V D'Orio and Bennet Togler 

- Story Of A Shell (from Sailor 
Songs, Dual Plover) One half of ace 
post-DHR duo Cobra Killer produces 
bizarre and discordant nautical concept 
album, creating haunting sea shanties 
from psychedelic sampled driftwood and 
an assortment of guest vocalists. 

The Complainer - Photonew 
(thisisnotacover) (from mik.musik, 
www.mikmusik.org) Polish produced 
Wojt3k Kucharczyk has been releasing 
music under the name Retro*Sex*Galaxy 
for six years now, also running the label 
Mik.Musik as a home for like-minded 
electronic miscreants. A cheap and 
simplistic glitch-meets-hi-nrg cover 
of a Depeche Mode song. 
Deflag Haemorrhage/Haien Kontra 

- Victory For The Psyche (from 
Luxury, WM/OR) Mattin and Tim 
Militant percussion blasts and ruptured 
linguistic glossolalia collide with squeals 
of laptop feedback and guitar noise climax 
like AMM having an orgy in an animal 
research laboratory. 

Plugman - untitled (CDR, www.19- 
t.com/plug) Gleeful reductio ad 
absurdium critique of electronic 
minimalism, playing only jackplugs. 
Sounds very much like Pan Sonic. 
Cecil Leuter - Pop Electronique #2 
(from Pop Electronique , Dare 
Dare) Cecil Leuter is a pseudonym of the 
great unsung hero of French library 
music, Roger Roger. This is a dyspeptic 
slice of Moog-funk from the golden era of 
space-age electronic pop. 

'You Are Hear' is presented by Magz Hall 
and Jim Backhaus, and was broadcast on 
Resonance FM on from May 2002 until 
the end of March 2006. 

You can hear archived shows 
and subscribe to the podcast at 
www.vouarehear.co.uk 



plan b 1 27 



the void 




ruby tombs 

Words: Lauren Strain 

Photography: Mark Newton 



glissandro 70 

Words: Stewart Gardiner 
Illustration: Laura Hughes 




Leeds' scuzzy coffin-dwellers Ruby Tombs just sent 
me an email so funny I almost wee'd, which I don't 
think is a word, but can definitely happen. There are 
three of them - Bobby Sparrow, William Rook and 
little Lauralee - and they are funny. They also verge 
on the terrifying, with their spazzed-out whip 
slashes of unfettered bitchy, batty buzziness 
which they use to fashion, "An audio equivalent of 
our day to day environment - an amalgamation of 
Westworld and the Planet Of The Apes" . 

As well as unleashing their zombies-in-stripes- 
and-liquid-eyeliner soundtracks onto a comatose 
globe. Ruby Tombs have designs on the Oxford 
English Dictionary. "When some twat in the pub 
asks us what we sound like, we can now say 
'creepbeat!' instead of having to painfully describe 
the style," says Sparrow. "Iguessthebigheadsin 
us liked the idea of creating our own niche genre 
and hoping that, one day, there'll be an army of 
creepbeat bands all around the world." 

After hearing the gravestone gunge of 
'Tattletale', in which they employ the baritone 
vocals of a granite-gargling Vlad the Impaler to 
provide something similar to a missing bass, lean 
tell you that I'm already trembling. I could also tell 



Beating out proto-techno rhythms that are slave to - rather than catalyst for - its 
heavy, whispered mantras, Glissandro 70's 'Analogue Shantytown' may be the 
most primal dancefloor cut in some time. The words of the track's title are delivered 
over and over, but soon your mind starts telling you the voice is in fact calling for 
some sort of analogue "shakedown, shakedown"- because, hell, that's what 
you're about to do. But don't be fooled: Glissandro 70's eponymous debut album 
(released through the ever ace Constellation label) is unlikely to be pigeonholed 
anytime soon. This here weirded-out tribal beat odyssey/otherworld folk music 
still doesn't have its own section in the record store. 

Glissandro 70 are Craig Dunsmuir and Sandro Perri, elsewhere known as 
Guitarkestraand PolmoPolpo. "I played guitar, sang, and wrote the initial song 
ideas for the record," Craig tells me. "Sandro was kind enough to have me over 
to his home studio about once a week for two years or so to complete the album. " 
It was a lengthy gestation period, but it paid off. Minutiae appear in abundance, 
but nothing feels as if it were set in stone, the music being a work of growth that 
shapes itself naturally through the splicing of genres. 



'We saw these huge sheets of 
cardboard scrawled with Portuguese 
magic-marker rantings' 



Mutual friend Jonathan Bunce-from Republic Of Safety -suggested Dunsmuir 
and Perri first collaborate with each other on a commission for the Muted Tones 
Weblog. "We ended up making a 1 0-minute collage called 'Somethings', under the 
mouthful of a title The Craig Dunsmuir Glissandro 70 Duo Guitarkestra (feat Sandro 
Perri). Sandro then remixed the last section of the piece, and it became the first song 
['Something'] on the resulting album." 

One of their most ingenious moves is the re-appropriating of chants from Model 
500's 'No UFOs' and 'Pulled Up' by Talking Heads. "I've enjoyed plundering actual 
recordings in the past," explains Craig, "but I felt like sampling actual lyrics was 
not only less litigious - we'll see about that! - but also something that I hadn't 
done before. So it felt fresher and more fun to do. Both those bits of lyrics seemed 
to make sense within the songs too. 'Portugal Rua Rua' hints at a night years ago 
where I saw these huge sheets of cardboard scrawled with Portuguese magic- 
marker rantings wrapped around lampposts. And the Juan Atkins [Model 500] 
lines are just as much of a loner diatribe as what I saw on the street that night. " 

Glissandro 70 is wonderfully, increasingly thrilling to me at the moment, its 
songs bringing alive these worlds of abstractness and specificity. It draws you in 
with its pounding heart, hypnotic phrasing and sheer refusal to settle into anything 
resembling stasis. Craig suggests they are "trying to freeze time," and if he means 
the capturing of infinities then I'm right there with him. 

www.cstrecords.com/bands_glissandro70.html 



28 1 plan b 



the void 



^WeYe f latliners. I think we're 
practically walking dead' 



you about a touring incident involving faeces and an unfortunate absence 
of loo roll -but I won't. 

Throwing a punch of bruised flesh at me like the drunk who drools outside 
our flat every Saturday, the band's sound is grizzly and animal - hell, it's below 
animal. You'll cack yourself; but then everyone needs a good wake-up call 
sometimes, even if it does happen to arrive in the form of rotting morsels of 
bloody, bubbling skin. Locked in their putrid basement cell of mouldy drums, 
witch-tantrum vocals and dripping guitars dangling from meat hooks, they 
don't really have (bloodshot) eyes for anything else. 

"I don't listen to music much in my spare time any more," says Sparrow. 
" I prefer to play darts. I'm a sad bastard. Not much makes us go 'ooh ! ' or 
'urgh!' We're flatliners. Ithinkwe'repractically walking dead." They haven't 
completely given up on the prospect of daylight, though. "A huge plate of 
food makes us all happy. It's one of the few things that Ruby Tombs all have 
in common - we all like to eat till we're on the verge of keeling over. " 

So, with stomachs chock-full of grub, and the odd maggot of decomposing 
music stuffed in for good measure, they're ready to go forth and multiply. 
" I don't think anyone's gonna care about how we met - 'Oh, I met Rook 
when he came in the local transport caff and he ordered the exact same meal 
as me, so I said wow, we've got lots in common, let's form a creepbeat band, 
influenced by The Dave Clark Five...' -so what? Let's look to the future!" 
Which, by the way, happens to involve a new single and, "Watching Valley 
Of The Dolls five times in a row and figuring out how best to rip it off" . 

Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

www.rubytombs.com 




killing joke: why i love.. .the Columbia hotel 

"i'vespentZSyearsof my life in this fucking hotel, I love it! I'm the only person 
around here that's allowed to come down to breakfast in my dressing gown 
with no shoes on! Lastyear Killing Joke came here, we had a late night, and I left 
the bathwater on. When I came out I heard the door banging, and I got off the 
bed and put my feet down and there's a foot of water! Itwas going everywhere, 
and my bags were floating ! Of course, I'd been here for years, I didn't know 
what to say. They were banging on the door saying 'Is everything OK in there? 
Have you got a leak?' and I'm going 'Oh, er, no, my bath's not running!' and 
I did a runner out of the fire escape. Then I didn't know how to come back in, 
because there was a bit of a complaint. I thought, 'Oh God, I can never show my 
face in that hotel ever again, after all these years! I'm so ashamed ! ' Raven says, 
'I know what to do, we send them a bunch of flowers and a rubber duck!' 
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ! And that's what we did, so we're back here now. I just 
walked down the stairs and there was Alison sitting there on reception. I said, 
'I feel so ashamed'. She didn't even look up, she said, 'And so you should'. Ha ha 
ha ha ha ha ha!" 
(Jaz Coleman) 




catfish haven 

Words: Stevie Chick 
Illustration: Adrian Fleet 

Three lush wet slashes of acoustic guitar open Catfish Haven's debut mini- 
LP, Please Come Back (Secretly Canadian), before a breathless testifying 
voice barks, "We're Catfish Haven and this is what we do...." The group 
then launches into some joyous, drunk-on-love hoedown that sounds 
like Neutral Milk Hotel conducting a symposium on 'soul' Dexys Midnight 
Runners. What it is that Catfish Haven 'do', is overhaul classic AM radio rock 
with a ramshackle, moon-gazing romanticism, tracing an ecstatic emotional 
ley-line from Creedence to My Morning Jacket. It's pretty lovely, actually. 

George Hunter (that voice, that guitar) sits shivering in the Chicago 
winter, but warm memories shared over crackly telephone line keep the 
blood from freezing. 

"I grew up in a place called Catfish Haven, deep in Missouri," he begins, 
a hairy Marcel Proust caught in rapture. "Itwas a total of seven trailers 



'It was a crazy f uckin' 

time as a kid, man' 



spread out on a piece of land in the middle of nowhere; you had to take 
a gravel road to the main highway to get into town. I went to this weird 
school and sat next to this guy called Gus on the bus, who ate f uckin' glue 
[laughs]. Itwasacrazyfuckin'timeasa kid, man, but it was one of the 
better memories of my life. Calling the group Catfish Haven makes it feel 
a little more like home to me. " 

The music is, appropriately, dreamy, nostalgic, warm. "The fun never 
ended at Catfish Haven," he chuckles, whimsically. "Itwas a real 'Huck 
Finn' experience." 

Innocence, purity and love make up the key threads of Catfish Haven's 
lyrical concerns, for which George is unrepentant. 

"I like to focus on the positive things in life," he nods, "and I think the 
most positive thing in life is love. It's something you can't really define, but 
you /cnoi/1/it...lt's almost like a religion, you can't touch it but you know it, 
you can't really explain it, but you understand it. . . " 

It makes sense that you'd spend so many songs trying to unravel it. 

"It's a mystery," he agrees, before his words take on a more solid, 
assured tone, "butl/7a\/ebeen in love before..." 

Having nailed down his elusive obsession quite so firmly, he retracts 
into a kinda warm, profound vagueness. 

" . . .And, uh, yeah ... I guess I just try to focus a lot more on the 
positive things..." 

Just over half a decade ago. Hunter relocated to Chicago, hooking 
up with bandmates Miguel Castillo (bass) and Ryan Farnham (drums), 
two Illinois homeboys who helped him adjust to big city life. 

"It was pretty overwhelming at first," he admits, "But now it feels 
like home." 

And if he ever misses those carefree days. Catfish Haven will continue 
to offer him a way to tap into that magical, never-forgotten past. 

www.catfishhaven.com 



plan b 1 29 



the void 




thanksgiving 

Words: Robin Wilks 

Photography: Adrian Nettleship 

"/ hope some day my lonely songs/ 
Will echo somehow everyone's" 
-Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving 

The first time I saw Adrian Orange 
live, he played in the toilet. It solved 
the problem of a crowd who were 
talking loudly and ignoring him, and 
it also sounded amazing. A tiny room 
full of sympathetic souls clapping 
and singing along was the perfect 
setting for the intimate, generous 
Thanksgiving songbook. Hopeful and 
bleak in equal measures, these songs 
are open to many interpretations, but 



he also finds time to play drums 
and guitar in the beautiful and 
atmospheric instrumental group The 
Watery Graves Of Portland. 

Each Thanksgiving record is an 
object of beauty that stutters between 
lo-fi folk, wild distorted noise, strident 
rhythms and sudden, haunting 
choruses. (When I ask Orange about 
influences, he sends me a long list 
that incorporates Robert Johnson to 
Dr Dre via Fleetwood Mac.) His latest 
work, 7'/7an/csg/V/ng- released just 
a month and a half after Cave Days 
and Moments -\s a three-LP cycle that 
sounds like an epic struggle to come 
to terms with the world in a language 
that is both bizarre and poignant. 



'I like to write about little moments 
in the world that are beautiful' 



never sound meaningless. They are 
a reminder of the true power of music, 
as defined by generations of folk 
singers: the ability to bring people 
together, and to enable a sharing of 
ideas that can help us to understand 
the world and feel less alone. 

"Writing songs that didn't say 
anything got boring after a while, 
and started making me wonder why 
I was singing them," says Orange, "so 
I decided to only sing songs written 
with a meaning I want to share. I also 
try to clarify what I'm saying as much 
as possible to people at shows, which 
can include stories, jokes, explanations 
or skits to get the point across. " 

This 20-year-old has plenty to 
share. In a few years, he has released 
more material than most bands 
produce in their entire careers; and 



Orange is now working on 
a book called The Collected Songs 
Of Thanksgiving. "\ like the idea of 
publishing a collected songs in many 
consecutive editions with new songs 
in them, like Walt Whitman's Leaves 
Of Grass," he explains. 

But he's not getting too big for his 
boots. " I have written a lot of songs, 
and I try to make them true, but I go 
back and forth between loving them 
and thinking they're bullshit. 

"I like to write about the little 
moments in the world that are 
beautiful, because you know they 
are true. Waking up in the morning 
with the harsh sun cutting through 
bony winter tree branches and birds 
squawking into your window is always 
true, no matter how you slice it. " 

www.marriagerecs.com 




manic cough 

words: Frances May Morgan 
Photography: Rachel Lipsitz 

Manic Cough are a punk pop party troupe from London and Brighton who love 
girl group rhythms, trashy guitars, dancing, food {"Egg! Chips! And Weetabix!") 
and, most importantly, dressing up like sailors, pirates, clowns, and princesses. 

Introduce yourselves! 

Sabi: "My name is Sabi, I don't really know who I am but I play the guitar 
and if I could have a superpower, it would be Russia. " Delia: " I'm Delia and I play 
bass . . .Superpower. . . .like Dial H For Hero comics, when you'd get one at 
random appropriate for the situation." Annie: "I'm Annie and lsing...lf I had a 
superpower it would be tojump over buildings and trees." Karl: "I'm Karl, I play 
the drums and my superpower would be the ability to read and absorb over a 
hundred books and articles a day." 

Egg and chips are great, but what's really your favourite breakfast? 

Delia: "Chocolate, pepsi max, posh cereal with freeze-dried strawberries, 
mashed potato, lucozade." Annie: "Pancakes and maple syrup and bacon." 
Karl: "Cheese and biscuits, maybe a drop of port." Sabi: "Banana milkshakes." 

If Manic Cough had a coat of arms, what would be on it? 
Karl: "A ladybird." Sabi: "Eggs and chips." Delia: "A flamethrower; snow 
leopards. " Annie: A broomstick, a heart, a star and a rainbow. " 

www.maniccough.com 




stration: Miranda lossifidis 



disco damaged: quasi 

" Mostly I've had typical stuff: bloody fingers, strained back from loading gear. 
Sometimes when I'm banging my head on the piano I get a little cut or puncture. 
I have a couple of metal parts on the top of the piano which have been twisted 
into sharp little points, and when I rake the piano across my chest it tends to 
cut it up, but not as much as Iggy with broken beer bottles. Last year I fractured 
a rib while swan-diving onto the piano. That hurt for a while. Years ago 
a bandmate jumped on my back during a performance and drove me head first 
into a concrete wall - everything went white for a moment and I went down, 
but I kept playing, semi-conscious. Often I'm semi-conscious anyway during 
a show. Once an electric current went though a microphone into my mouth, 
through my body, out my hands, through my guitar, into the amp and blew 
the amp up. I went down on that one too, and my heart was fluttering. 
Borrowed another amp and finished the show. " 
(Sam Coomes) 



30 1 plan b 



i^Wtr^i 



THE KM ire. 



y/'/j"/. 



:#;•:•:#?*:«:• 



'tT#^«"it 






tiUl 




'The mercurial quality of The Knife's song writing astounds. 

The sound of a group entering their prime. 

Silent Shout - strange, bold and tunefuV (uncut) 

'Deliciously twisted pop' (nme) 'Astounding (uixmag) 

'Magnificent' (word) 



The New Album Out Now on CD/ Download ft Limited edition vinyl. 
Plan B presents The Knife live at The Scala, London, April 10th. (Sold Out) 



the void 




squirrel records 

Words: Hayley Avron 

Photography: Mark Newton 



I promised myself that I wouldn't make any stupid 
squirrel jokes, squirrel puns or squirrel analogies 
while writing this piece. However, there's an image 
in my head that I just can't get rid of: Darren and 
Caroline - Squirrel Records' no-nonsense lynchpins 
- as two hungry punk rock squirrels, foraging round 
the world trying to uncover punk rock nuts in this 
big sea of shit and trendy scenester bullshit (have 
you ever been to Leeds?). 

Now that's out of the way, what you need 
to know is this: Squirrel Records is a BIFF! ! BANG ! ! 
POW! ! of a record label. It speaks in neon colours; 
it cares little for geography, and even less for 
fashion. What it gives a shit about is "everything 



'When we hear a band 
we really like, we go 
all out to release a 
record by them' 



that ever provoked a reaction and a desire to 
change things", and it's scared of "complacency" 
and "getting old". 

Neither of which should bother them for quite 
some time, because when you're releasing records 
by underage American teens called Savage Lucy 
and three-minute wonders The Real Losers, lazing 
about isn't ever going to be an option and Botox 
is just a band name waiting to happen, not 
something you'd pay to have stuck in your face. 

Born out of a desire to release Darren and 
Caroline's own music (their old band Pop Threat 

32 I plan b 



was their first release; new band The Manhattan 
Love Suicides will be with us shortly), but now 
committed to sharing their global discoveries with 
the rest of us, the ethos of the label is, according 
to Caroline, " DIY - it's so obviously DIY" . They're 
influenced by labels such as, " Postcard, early 
Creation Records, Sarah Records, Subway, kill rock 
stars and K records", and realise there's not a lot 
of room for going wrong. 

If, like me, you have arrived at the 1 00 per cent 
true and incontrovertible conclusion that people 
who like horror movies have the best music taste, 
you'll be pleased to know that the release tagged 
SQRL01 came with the same quirky confidence that 
Herschell Gordon Lewis applied to his debut gore 
fWck, Blood Feast. "It's no good, but it's the first." 

So they followed it up by handing us The Cribs, 
before the masses swallowed them up; they made 
sure we got a slice of Kavolchy's Riot GrrrI ruination 
before it imploded; and they're just about to 
offer up a split LP by The Nasties and The Stuck 
Ups. For those of us that were too busy picking 
chewing gum outof our hairatthe back of the 
class to pay attention, they crammed 27 tracks 
of trans-continental fun, such as Anna And The 
Psychomen, The Boonaraaas, The Revelators, 
The Real Losers and Belly Button onto their recent 
NutBoppin' Whoppers compilation. 

"We don't have a lot of money to play with, but 
when we hear a band we really like, we go all out 
to release a record by them," they tell me. "We do 
this because we have to. And because we can. " 

Now, I wonder if we can get them to wear those 
squirrel outfits for a photo-shoot. . . ? 

www.squirrelrecords.co.uk 



SWANS 



SCRAWLED RAPING 
ASLAVEYOUNG 
GODTHISISMINEj 



in the mix: the 

Jacob Miller- Baby I Lo 

Augustus Pablo, King Tub- 
perfect reggae's dub strategy. 
Rhythm & Sound ft Cornell Campell 
- King In My Empire 

Sheer dubtronic bliss, with the heavenly 
vocal of the reggae veteran. 
Capleton - Final Assassin 
This track hooked me on ragga's bionic 
gyrations. Bashment intensity, full of sex 
and violence. 

Bounty Killer -Sufferah 
Dancehall's genius Lenky Marsden's finest 
production overflows with handclaps and 
bass, as the Killer gets militantly political. 
Dizzee Rascal - 1 Luv U 
From nowhere came Britain's finest 
hip hop track. 

Public Enemy - You're Gonna Get Yours 
Wall of sound and funky as fuck, this was 
my first exposure to PE's Bomb Squad- 
produced brilliance. 
Miles Davis - Rated X 
Jazz as psychedelic assault weapon. Heavier 
than a flood of death metal. 
Remarc-RIP 

The track that first sucked me into 
jungle. A mentalist clash of breaks and 
bombast, yet ridiculously funk filled and 
insanely danceable. 
Discharge - Realities Of War 
When I first realised music could be pure 
rhythm and noise. My punk baptism, 
primitive, political and positively evil. 
Swans - Raping A Slave 
Rock's last testament, as The Stooges are 
emulated at a death crawl 16rpm. Nihilistic 
hell that sounded awesome 
Public Image Ltd - Death Disco 
Post punk hatefulness, krautrock and dub 
fuse brilliantly forthis classic binshaker. 
My Bloody Valentine - Glider 
Any of MBV's Loveless album would also 
qualify, as Kevin Shields pioneered a 
breathtaking way to bliss-out rock music. 
Creation Rebel - Starship Africa 
Dub production maestro Adrain Sherwood 
turned reggae inside out with this tripped 
outvoyage into a 'psychedelic Africa'. 
Bernard Herrmann - Theme From 
Vertigo 

Alfred Hitchcock and Scorsese's favourite 
composer was a master of sonic suspense, 
as the hypnotically terrifying strings 
illustrate. Beautiful. 
Thomas Koner - Permafrost 
Like Ligeti's compositions which were 
pilfered for 200 7; /A Space Odyssey, Koner's 
disturbing ambience is a joy to get lost in. 
(Kevin Martin) 



VN*>W%1 



1k. 




'yiomino. 



Adem 



Love and other planets 

LP & CD • 24.04.06 



www.adem.tv www.dominorecordco.com 



UANA MOLINA 




LP & CD • 02.05.06 



www.iuanamoiina.com www.aommorecoraco.co] 




the void 




why I love...ariel pink 

Words: Gracelette 
Illustration: Lady Lucy 

Taking a walk with House Arrest 



I put on my happy trashy 
moonboots, the ones that make 
me look like a Rollerball groupie, 
trimmed in metallic pink rubber 
and white fake fur, and I went for 
a walk with Ariel Pink. I wanted 
to squeeze his hand tightly 
when I heard him "sh sh sh"-ing 
like bargain basement Bucks 
Fizz over the opening track to 
his new album. House Arrest. 
I was glad no studio slickness 
had penetrated the glitzy bead 
curtain which surely leads to 
a filthy kitchen covered in orange 



so much and whether we'd make 
it to track three. Which turned 
out to be a sweet and melting 
number about panthers and 
snakes. West Coast boys and East 
Coast girls, as warm as showgirl 
feathers nestling against talcum- 
powdered breasts. I love it when 
boys do that, slap you around till 
you're too red-eyed to cry, then 
suddenly turn you over and give 
you the most relaxing massage 
of your life. 

We walked past an old 
drycleaners, a clothes rail full 



As warm as showgirl feathers 
nestling against talcum- 
powdered breasts 



peel and popped corks where 
Mr Pink records. 

By the second track, 
'Interesting Results', I wanted 
to show him my happy boots to 
make him happy too as I thought 
how much hatred boys can have 
sometimes, this music vicious 
now, a tooth-chattering grin, 
a hatef uck, one of my best 
friends telling me that his last 
album was a poison pen letter 
to the music he once loved. 
I wondered what Ariel hated 

34 1 plan b 



of dresses swooping in an arc 
from the ceiling to the floor, 
and I thought about Hollywood, 
where Mr Pink is from, and 
clowns who live in dry-cleaners' 
shops torturing polystyrene 
mannequins. On the corner of 
Piazza dell'Llnita, we watched 
an old Italian lady in a fur coat 
hovering above her little Scottie 
dog, homing in at the last 
moment to place a square 
white napkin on the concrete 
over which he squatted. Ariel, 



crooning in the fantastically 
named 'Every Night I Die At 
Miyagi's', started to sound very 
normal, like something on MTV. 

We arrived at LidI as Ariel hit 
the title track and synched in 
properly with the world around 
me, brightly coloured ACE Drinks 
and impeccably dressed Nigerian 
men standing in the aisles, 
posing. We left with some face 
scrub so I could peel off my skin 
and not be so scared to let a cute 
boy see me in natural light, like 
Ariel's not being so scared on 
this album to show himself in 
more natural sound, scrubbing 
off the distortions and echoes. 

As we strolled back down 
Via Spada, Ariel flickered. He 
flickered again. I watched him, 
his arms and legs disappearing 
and reappearing at random 
intervals, even his head. 
Vooosh! Silence. Vooosh! 
Silence. Smidgen of cabaret. 
Silence. I moved my arms and 
legs and shoulders too, trying to 
match him. We moved like this, 
arms and legs and glitching 
music, all the way back home, 
collapsing finally into silence 
only as I reached the front door, 
where five big dogs and their 
owners were having some 
sort of bow wow. Since then, 
I've been too scared to listen to 
the album again in case it was 
just the batteries in my Discman 
that were running down. But 
that's Ariel Pink for you - live, 
right there in front of you, he's 
always so much better than the 
recorded things. 



jenny Wilson 

Words: Beth Capper 

Illustration: Mini Padam 

The woman towers above me on the squat stage. 
She is physically striking - over six feet tall, with 
long, dark hair and crimson lips -and arresting: 
coercing her audience to look and listen, like those 
schoolteachers with the ability to silence whole 
classes of rowdy children with one curt stare. Still, 
a few onlookers engage in hushed conversation, 
and she waits patiently, yet sternly, for them to 
stop before commencing her set. "I'm going to 
play a quiet song, " she says. 

This was my first live encounter with Jenny 
Wilson. Her debut record. Love And Youth, was 
a slice of simplistic, somewhat mawkish, pop 
genius - produced, engineered, written and played 
entirely by Wilson. I first heard of her when a friend 
showed me a clip from Swedish TV featuring 
Wilson alongside Swedish pop star Robyn. In it, 
Jenny and Robyn sit at a piano - like mischievous 
schoolgirls cutting class, absconding to the practice 
room - and cover Saul William's 'List Of Demands', 
with the additional aids of a child-sized keyboard 
and lots of handclapping. There is something 
so naive about them, singing their hearts out in 
an empty room, completely unburdened by the 
scrutinizing gaze of an audience. They're revelling 
in the moment; caught up in a song. 

"No time for education, so let's go, " sings 
Wilson jovially on 'Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward'. 
She's like most of the kids at school who grow up 
to play in bands: obsessing over records because 



6»^!a?gg^£gSBja!8S3gif:aK^:ff.4gafeiia8 



remote viewer: madrid 

Words: Manuel Bang! 
Illustration: Abel Cuenca 



I should be watching an amazing mini-festival 
with people such as Afrirampo, Melt Banana, 
Lightning Bolt, Roedelius and Quintron. But 
I'm at home writing, because the authorities 
decided that it couldn't go ahead. This is not 
a new situation - the Madrid mayorship having 
been closing down venues for around 1 years. 
Subsequently, there are now no more than three 
or four small venues, none of which have good 
sound or a capacity of more than 1 00 people. 
However, censorship and limitations can 
be good for creativity, and despite all these 
problems, the number of good and interesting 
bands in the city right now is amazing. 

The band best known abroad could be 
Grabba Grabba Tape, who have toured the 
UK, France and Portugal. Lol-oh-vot and Gros- 
oh-vot make up this duo of drums and synth, 
with vocodered vocals and a sound like the 
retarded son of Lightning Bolt and Daft Punk 
trying to copy The Residents. They play in 
homemade suits of white fur and pink Lycra, so 
hot that it limits their gigs to 20 minutes to avoid 
suffocation. Lol-oh-vot is also a graphic designer 
known as Le Cadavre, and runs the Gssh ! Gssh ! 
label, which releases vinyl by Glass Candy, That 
Fucking Tank and other Spanish bands. 

Watching Disco Volante and UFO Rock play 
in the electronic act Humbert Humbert- one 
of them short and bald, singing high-pitched 
and manipulating the programming, the other 
tall and bald, playing guitar like an Eighties 
icon -you could be mistaken for thinking them 
a comedy duo. Butthey're underground comic 
book artists Paco Alcazar and Miguel B Nunez. 
Their music is some kind of karaoke-disco 



'Did the future 
husband die in some 
awful accident?' 



it seems more vital, music providing a 
cathartic distraction from the daily torments 
of abusive peers. Instead of channelling 
this discontent into more antagonistic 
renderings, Wilson chooses to translate 
her frustrations into derisively lyrics, upbeat 
melodies and flagrantly catchy choruses. 

As her album title suggests, love 
- and the despair, anxiety and elation that 
come along with it - provides most of the 
inspiration for Wilson's lyrics; a combination 
of personal experience and the simulacra 
surrounding us daily. In a section entitled 
'Homework' on her website, dedicated 
to poetry, stories and miscellaneous 
found items, she posts a snapshot of 
a sign discovered on a Swedish notice 
board: 'For Sale: wedding dress, size 38, 
bone white, elegant, beautiful, new. Price: 
1 600 kronor (never used).' 

"So, what happened?" writes 
Wilson, evidently moved by the tragedy 
underscoring it. " Did the future bride 
change her mind? Did the future husband 
die in some awful accident? Or did love just 
fadeaway...?" Finding an answer to such 
questions is perhaps her driving force. 

www.jennywilson.net 



work in progress: jenny wilson 

" I work very much in my home. Half of my album I made 
actually in my apartment. I'm not out that much. I don't see 
so many people and I almost never hang out. I never go out 
except for when I'm playing. The album is a concept album, 
you know. And it's so much about being in school. On the 
Love And Youth album, almost every song has some very 
hard situation that I try to tell about. So. . . I actually think 
that summers can be pretty difficult. Because you have sue " 
a pressure on you to do a lot of funny things. When you wei 
younger you should fall in love, you should do this and that 
and you should definitely have fun all the time. When I think 
back on my youth, I can get pretty angry with myself. I should 
have been much more brave and I shouldn't have been so * 
afraid of everything. 

"When I'm in the beginning of my work I try to. . .collect 
things, which help me to build up my little world. I try to look 
at photographs. And read books. And poetry. First I read 
all my diaries from when I was 1 3 to when I was 22. And 
I think it was like 30 books or something because I wrote so 
much when I was young. And it was an experience ! It was 
embarrassing. It was. . .very. . .sweet. I was reading a whole 
summer and I was so into it. It was like [gasp] I was reading 
a very good book. Not that it was very good written, but 
I couldn't stop. It was so interesting to meet me again. It's 
easy to think you have always been the same. . .but I realised 
that I was very different from now. And my mother died when 
I was 1 4 years old. And the book's around her - when she 
died. It's so weird, you know. I didn't write anything about it. 

"Writing in a diary it's so secret -you don't wanna show 
it to anyone, you just put it under your bed. But since the first 
day I was making my first songs, I really wanted people to 
hear it. I think it's important to have some kind of audience. " 
(Interview by David McNamee) 




They play in homemade 
suits of white fur and 
pini( Lycra 



version of new wave. Eighties AOR, and post punk 
- irreverent, funny and enjoyable. 

Los Caballitos de DiJsseldorf are four people 
playing doo-rags in live improvisations. 'What's 
a doo-rag?' you ask. Take a toy gun, modify its inner 
electronics, put it in a coolbox, and connect it to an 
amp. Play six or seven of these at the same time and 
you're remaking Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music 
on Sesame Street. 

The happiest part of seminal band Ensaladilla 
Rusa's split was the birth of Bicicross. Hearing this 
quartet has been one of the most exciting moments 
this season. Their blend of avant pop, somewhere 
between the quietest Clinic and the fastest Hood, 
is the perfect soundtrack for picnics in the grass, 
with striped T-shirts and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Another recent discovery is Juanita y los Feos, 
who make some kind of synth-d riven darkwave, 
like Lost Sounds or Subtonix, but with a garage 
edge similarto the Black Lips. Their singer moves 
like a teenage Ida No, singing about dogs, fear 
and violence in nightclubs. 

There's a lot more going on, too. We have 
the Martian surf trio, Ginferno, with their weird 
instrumentation and performance. We have free- 
jazz-free-punk with Grimorio and kung-fu jungle 
parties with Chingaleros. We have Las Pulpas 
and their riot-disco-pop, and Tres Delicias, with 
their mixture of The Gories and Dead Moon. We 
have post punk crusaders Veracruz, avant hard 
heroes Les Aus, indie-rock grrrls Sibyl Vane, or 
Tarantula, who sound like Suicide for club girls. 
And in Valencia, there's the musical collective 
headed by Le Jonathan Reilly - fans of Wipers or 
Weirdos, but with better songs than their heroes. 

www.tiendabang.com 




plan b 1 35 



the void 




kitchen cynics 

Words: Nicola Meighan 

Photography: Andy Mulhern 

" / was impressed with her ability/To swear lil<e 
fuck in semaphore ," marvels Alan Davidson -alias 
harmonic outsider archivist Kitchen Cynics - on 
his acid paean, 'All Grown Up In Monochrome'. 

" She learned to do it in the Guides - semaphore 
I mean, not swearing," expounds the avidly erudite 
Davidson - apropos his gesturing inamorata 
- from the comfort of a snow-caked railway arch 
in Aberdeen. "She also knew sign language, as 
did I, so we could swear at each other using our 
hands," he fondly reminisces. "Itall went well until 
I was rubbing my hands together on a cold day, and 
she misread my signal as something extreme/y rude. 
And that," he cautions flatly, "was that." 

Davidson's tales - of 1 9th Century ferry 
disasters, flint and bones and standing stones, local 
Forties whores, and foul-mouthed practitioners 
of semaphore - are glorious. His mythological, 
prosaic and deadpan narratives map the primal 
and the elemental, the universal and the personal: 
the sea and lasagne and fossils and love. 



'I always sense my 
own mortality when 
I listen to old 
recordings' 



Having propagated a nigh-countless slew 
of cassettes and albums and CDRs since the mid- 
Eighties, Davidson's live alliances include Damon 
Krukowski (Damon & Naomi), Tom Rapp (Pearls 
Before Swine), Masaki Batoh (Ghost), and artist 
Will Schaff (Okkervil River/Godspeed) -with whom 
he exchanged songs for original art. 

Also a regular in Damo Suzuki's network, 
Davidson's lined up to play Triptych in April (with 
Akron/Family, Wolf Eyes and Odetta); and he'll join 
Lightning Bolt, Bardo Pond and Marissa Nadlerat 
Terrastock 6. Yet he only recently took to the stage. 

"At Terrastock 5, Tom Rapp asked me to 
sing a verse with him," he hastens, "and because 
he's a hero, I said yes, but I was petrified." A beat. 
The next day, I got drunk with [wintry psych-folkers] 
The Iditarod," he staggers, "and agreed to support 
them. It wasn't until I sobered up that I realised 
I hadn't played in front of anyone before. . . " 

Kitchen Cynics' current D/sfanf Voices, Distant 
Songs album is a series of serenades to North 
East Scotland: movingly introduced by Davidson's 
octogenarian folks, Jimmy and Doris. Is he 
compelled to archive local history through art? "As 
my parents have become increasingly old and frail 
I've felt a need to document their stories, " he nods. 

" I always sense my own mortality when I listen 
to old recordings," laughs the ever self-effacing 
Davidson. Yet his livid, beguiling, sonic folklore 
has already rendered him quite, quite timeless. 

www.myspace.com/kitchencynics 



let's dance: 

the long blondes ,i^ta 

"Sobriety leads to JIJtf^^K 
a refreshingly honest ^J^^^^l 
^ approach to dance. j|^^^^H 
^ Skip the wine, keep ^r ^^ 
a clear head and dance ^^^^^^ 
like there is nobody I^^^^^K^ 
watching. The best ^^^^^^^ 
situation to dance in is ^^^^H 
when the dance floor is ^^^H 
clear, the stakes are high, ^^^K 
and the music is from the 
mid-Nineties. Britpop or 
rave, it's all good." 






(Reenie, bass) 


^^^^ 




\ 

m 

ft ^ 


4 

* 


-n 

■ 


B 


1 

raphy: Sarah Bowles ' 


P ^ 





ustration: Matt Taylor 




rock'n'roll reading: the double 

"Hmm...that'satoughone. I did like TT^eD/'/t about Motley Crue quite a bit, but let's see what else I can 
come up with. I just read the latest collection of Lester Bangs' essays. I forget the title. . .something like you'd 
expect; Bloodfeasts And Mainlines, or something [Mainlines, Blood Feasts, And Bad Taste, actually- Rock 
Books Ed]. Among all the Don't Look Back's and Gimme Shelter's in the world, I don't know if it's my all 
time favourite, but it was really good, sometimes Lester Bangs can be annoying in his beat-lust writing style, 
but mostly he really is brilliant. His essay on Sid Vicious is particularly spot on. It's a love/hate letter, and the 
resolution between love and hate is never reached. One minute Lester is basically saying he's glad the sick 
dirtbag died, and the next minute he is railing at the rest of the world for letting a poor misunderstood kid 
just slip away. It seems the most fitting eulogy one could give to Sid Vicious, and maybe to punk rock. In this 
instance his speed-freak writing style really helps to get the point across. Hell, I don't really give a shit about 
the Sex Pistols' music and I felt it. " 
(Jeff McLeod, drums) 



36 1 plan b 



the void 



toqraphv: Simon Fernandez 



|<v 




4 



fear and loathing: architecture in helsinki 

"I grew up on a farm in outback Australia. Now, any kid that 
has spent their formative years in a rural scenario knows that 
death is a part of everyday life. I shot rabbits and sparrows, 
watched my dad slash the throats of sheep and mourned 
as our pet calf got sent off to market. But it was the deadly 
venom of the world's most poisonous snake, the Eastern 
Brown, which caused (and still causes!) me more anxiety 
than any bloody throats or broken necks. I remember 
coming home one day and walking into the lounge room 
to see a 2 metre long Brown snake coiled up on the coucf 
[55[uealed my qrepubescent lungs out in search of my dad, 

there, miraculously 



avoidinqcosmetic damage tothecouc 

"Or trere was time that I stood and watched my 65-year-~ 
old Gramdmother, with a shovel, trying to kill a vicious 

■'faster nrBrown on the veranda, while it lunged at her legs. 

.^e decapitated '-* 

aC "Inthr riinrtii r In-rfnilrrrmnnfiiitlvr fimilydnri-tn 

the wrcitholHhe Brown. They were prob 

^ a teenage tough guy that I truly w?|H (excluding the 

eath af Kurt Cobain). So, at this point, I takeoff my baseball 
cap and lay it on my heart, in fnemory of thoseWogs, Tiger, 
Sparky, Snippy and Harley.l^have decided the planet Earth 
would be a much better place without the Eastern Brown 
snake, then I might be able to walk in long grass again 
without having heart palWtations." . 

(Cameron Bird) ^'^ \ \ \ \ I 



on tour: the wedding present 

"One of the conclusions that I've reached after 
a couple of decades' worth of globetrotting is that 
everywhere you go, people are pretty much the 
same. Buildings, pop music, haircuts, mannerisms, 
tastes. . .on the whole, there haven't been too 
many shocks in any country we have visited. 

"Apart from Japan. Japan is like nowhere else 
on Earth. The whole country looks like it's just been 
spring -cleaned. Department stores employ people 
to dust the hand-rails of escalators and the taxi 
drivers wear dinner jackets. Before touring there 
in March 1 993, my only contact with the Japanese, 
apart from the odd day of surreal press interviews in 
London hotels, was with the bloke who translated 
my lyrics for some Wedding Present album sleeves. 
The flight out was familiar enough. The free bar was 
enjoyed by most members of our party but only our 
drummer, Simon Smith, achieved that rock'n'roll 
distinction of enjoying it to the point where his 
entire seat had to be removed at the halfway 
stop in Dubai. He was a little more restrained at the 
concerts, but his extra talents as tour manager were 
not tested on this trip. We set the equipment up at 
the first venue in Osaka, all the time being observed 
by a team of Japanese technicians. Measurements 
and Polaroids were taken and, thereafter, at every 
other concert, we arrived on high speed 'hikari' 
trains, refreshed by the Indian restaurant style 
hot towels provided by hostesses, to find the gear 
set up in exactly the same way. 

"In other countries, there's heckling, there's 
shouting, there's chit-chat. In Japan, the audiences 
were extremely courteous and respectful. Our 
performances were greeted with agitated and often 
emotional responses (and my attempts at Japanese 
were met with enthusiastic, if slightly bewildered 
approval) but after each song's applause had 
died away, a long and eerie silence would descend 
over the audience while they waited for the next 
number. This continued throughout the show until 
we'd finished, and they were politely invited to leave 
the auditorium by a recorded voice emanating from 
the loudspeaker system. Forty-five minutes later, all 



evidence of our presentation had been packed away 
and the stage vacuumed clean. My girlfriend and 
our roadie, Sally Murrell, was not allowed to pick 
anything up. 

"In one city, none of us actually breathed the 
outside air because the venue, hotel and restaurant 
were in the same building. Incidentally, this made 
the job of the scores of young female fans who, 
it seems, follow every visiting pop group around, 
much simpler. Cameras and camcorders clicked and 
whirred as beautifully packaged gifts were handed 
over. Conversations were interesting. Two girls 
impressed me with their command of English and 
wide range of questions: ("Why did you call the 
band The Wedding Present?", "How is your new 
album different to the previous one?"," What 
colour are your socks?") until I realised that they 
had just phonetically memorised all of the questions 
from a Take That interview in Smash Hits and did 
not have a clue what my answers meant. 

"They didn't get around to inquiring: "Who runs 
your mighty merchandising operation?" However, 
I can tell you that airline baggage restrictions had 
restricted us to just one box of T-shirts, the type we 
would normally have sold for about £7 at the time. 
Our Japanese hosts shook their heads in disbelief 
and pleaded with us to price them at £35. None of 
us could feel morally justified at such a huge profit 
margin, so we naively compromised at around £1 7, 
which meant that all the shirts were snapped up as 
bargains in minutes. Endof story, you mightthink. 
Not quite. 

"From then on our sellers continued trading in 
a slightly more philosophical fashion. Let me put it 
this way. Fantastic Yorkshire pop group visits your 
town and you want to buy a T-shirt. Unfortunately, 
shirts have sold out. You give group your name and 
address and £30 in cash (price of shirt plus postage). 
Group promises to send you shirt when they get 
home. Yeah. . .right! But unbelievably, what might 
seem like a dodgy scam in ol' Blighty passes as a 
perfectly acceptable sales technique in Japan. And 
yes, you cynic, we sent them their shirts. " 
(David Gedge) 



Illustration: David Bailey 




plan b 1 37 



the void 



GIEATSMASHINGSUI^ER l 



Tour Diary: Tilly And The Wall 
Illustration: Vincent Vanoli 




2 February 

We are greeted at Heathrow by two new faces, 
Stephen and Michael, from our label Moshi Moshi. 
They take us out for drinks where we meet several 
awesome people and get to know our new friends; 
they seem preettttty radical. Sambucca is the 
popular drink of choice so some of the Tillies are 
stumblin' home. Good times. 

13 and 14 February 

We are living in radio world. We go to BBC 6Music 
and record four songs. In the process, we collectively 
blow out three power strips and some fuses. We 
walk to Oxford Street to see the 'sights' (shops) 
and jam out to the new Hot Chip in our new home: 
Top Shop. The next day, we record more songs for 
XFM. Jamie has to be put into a separate room so 
we watch her play along with us through a window! 

15 February 

Today is Conor's birthday! He and a few other 
friends from home are with us at the Old Blue Last 
for the Moshi Moshi party. Aftershow = makeshift 
party. Food consumption. Debauchery. Late, late 
night. Awesome times. 

16 February 

The Windmill in Brixton. Neely and Nick and our 
friend Emmy go to watch her Swedish comrades. 
The Shout Out Louds and The Concretes, play the 
Brixton Academy! Meanwhile, Derek, Conor and 
I get trapped in a shed by a vicious and gigantic dog 
beast. He turns out to be a huge but very friendly 
German Shepherd. He hangs out in the barthe rest 
of the night. Bark > bite. 

17 February 

We play The Venue in New Cross with the Semi 
Finalists. They are so great! The DJs are also kickass. 
Songs include: 'Sweat (A La La La La Long)' by Inner 
Circle, 'Regulator' by Warren G, and the 'Remind 
Me Of The Babe' song from Labyrinth. Slayed. 

18 February 

In store at Pure Groove! Such sweet peeps work 
there! Afterwards we all get a treat from a mad 
woman who comes in screaming that we are all 
rapists and that she has proof! All of us! ! ! 

19 February 

An outstanding time at the Buffalo Bar tonight! 
Afterwards, Classic Dance Party 2006. Involves: 
'Hey Ya', hot dance moves and many shots ranging 
in flavours from custard, chocolate cake and kiwi. 
We drop down and get our eagle on. 

21 February 

Show at Dublin Castle in Camden. Michael says it 
has a rich history. We love it. The bands tonight are 
all so great! I manage to lose myjeans. Not like that 
-they were in my bag, you pervs! 

22 February 

Today we see the Prime Minister of Iceland at some 
weird store. Can't say that happens every day! 

23 February 

We arrive in Berlin and go directly to nap in our 
AMAZING hotel. At Club Fritz, we find the most 
wonderful array of goodies to eat! Easiest way to 
our hearts! ! ! The show is so awesome! 

24 February 

We arrive in Paris and go directly to nap in our 
ADORABLE hotel. At the Pointe Ephemere, 
we are gifted the most delicious veggie dinner. 
Mmmm! It is an epic night which includes people 
clapping for us even though we brutally fuck up 
the beginning. Finally meet Nick's longtime friend 
Cedric. A legendary time! 



38 1 plan b 




We are trapped in a shed 
by a vicious and gigantic 
dog beast 

25 February 

Day off in Paris! Cedric, Nick, Neely and I go on a full-day excursion through 
the city. Cedric takes us everywhere we want to see. Having been a tour guide 
at Notre Dame for years, he also takes us on a breathtaking trip through its off- 
limits terraces and rarely seen spots. It is one of the most extraordinary things 
I have ever experienced. Derek and Jamie enjoy a day of romantic sightseeing. 
They take photos together with a big sign that reads "Come Celebrate With 
Us! " for their upcoming wedding invitations. They go up the Eiffel Tower, then 
come down, then have crepes and red wine. Aww! 

27 February 

I can't believe we just played fucking Norway! ! ! We heart Oslo! 

28 February 

Holy shitballs. We get into a cab at 6am and it drives us the wrong way. 
Bad sign. So is the snow. Checking in at the airport, we learn our names and 
confirmation numbers for tickets to Stockholm don't exist in the system. Still 
snowing hard. We end up buying new tickets since it's cheaper than changing 
them. We wait for 1 2 and a half hours. We try to sleep on chairs obviously 
meant for torture, with the scent of hot-dogs lingering in our faces. It's snowing 
harder. We slather on expensive face creams a few times. We check in all of our 
equipment. Twice. Then they cancel our flight. Twice. We get in a line about 60 
or 70 miles long in order to figure out our ticket situation, before realising that, if 
we're going to catch a train to Stockholm, we first need to get the bus back to 
Oslo. And the bus is leaving in eight minutes. Otherwise we'll have to stay 
overnight in the port and skip Stockholm since they don't fly there. Without 
really knowing if it's the right choice, we run to the bus and get on. Our friend is 
waiting at the bus station with tickets for the train. 

1 March 

1 am in love with a city. Lovely Emmy picks us up and takes us to her perfectly 
warm flat to rest. Emmy and her sweet friends take us around Stockholm to eat 
and see the 'sights' (shops). It is truly a wonderful day. The show that night is so, 
so exciting. A bunch of our new Swedish friends come and make us warm with 
happiness. We try to pretend it will never end, then we fly back to London. 

2 March 

We sleep until soundcheck at the Barfly in Camden. Neely and I do an interview 
with John Kennedy! Sorad! Aftertheshow, we hang out with Diamond Nights, 
who play after us. They are extremely nice. Great times! 

3 March 

On a bus to Manchester. It is a converted Royal Mail van... but with fucking 
flames on the front. HA! 

4 March 

Guess we all knew this day had to come. We have to say goodbye to Michael 
and Stephen, two people who have been our generous hosts, our protectors, 
our heroes and most importantly, our friends. We are sad to be leaving you, 
UK, butthislSonlytheFIRSTEuropean Adventure... we will be back! xo 




be yourownpet .net www. xlre cor dings .c- 



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plan b 1 39 



the void 




ant music for sax people 

Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv 

Photography: Wyatt Cusick 

Brassy Swedish rebel rousers 
Love Is All down their vodkas 
and fill the dancefloor with 
gleeful skronk-energy 



" So was it worth the wait? " asks our moshpit friend 
between bounces. We've told him how we've been 
waiting to see Love Is All ever since we heard the 
ecstatic, shouty chorus of 'Spinning and Scratching', 
from the 'Make Up, Make Out, Fall Out' EP. And 
the answer, of course, is: Hell yeah ! Hugo's Speaker 
Palace is jam packed with a heaving crowd of twee 
indie kids with all their buttons undone. 

Where were all these people when we DJ-ed at 
this same east London venue and played Love Is All 
to the derision of an audience claiming you couldn't 
dance to this music? Singer Josephine Olausson 
identifies: "I DJ and there's always someone who 
wants The Doors. I never DJ stuff that people can 
dance to -just get used to it! " But dance we do, 
or rather, raucously head-nod, with some random 
vertical jumps thrown in. 

Love Is All arose from the ashes of Swedish indie 
band Girlfrendo, when Josephine, Nicholaus 
Sparding and Markus Gorsch joined up with 
Frederik Eriksson and Johan Lindwall, having 
determined to find a warmer studio to practise in. 
Switching instruments, they managed to generate 
a completely original sound. It's a delirious cocktail 
of the agit-femme new wave of Kleenex and Lora 
Logic, the spin-around-the-room energy of Nena 
and The Photos and the cotton candy and motor oil 
echo of The Shangri-Las. 

Johan: "The only thing we can all agree on 
musically is Roxy Music- early Roxy Music. And late 
Roxy Music -even after Brian Eno quit the band." 

Frederik: "...and Bryan Ferry solos." 

Johan: "Of course, Josephine brings in a lot 
of other influences. But we're very democratic as 
a band - we listen to everyone's ideas. I was a huge 
Twisted Sister fan when I was small and the only 
thing I didn't like about them was the saxophone." 

Frederik, do you experience the loneliness of 
the saxophone player? 

Frederik: " Saxophone is very cheesy. There's 
a classic Swedish pop-punk song called 'Die Mauer' 
with sax, and everyone went 'urgggh ! ' when they 
heard it. Everyone hates Eighties sax." 

You write a lot about being bored, is that 
a national state of mind? 

Johan: "It'sagroupstateof mind, anyway." 

Do you always get asked in interviews about 
Sweden? Do you get a lot of Swedish stereotypes 
thrown at you? 

Johan: "No! What do you think Sweden is?" 

Well, IKEA's meatballs, ABBA and Swedish black 
metal, right? Oh, and the Swedish drinking song. . . 



A delirious 
cocktail of the 
agit-femme new 
wave of Kleenex 
and Lora Logic 



Johan: "We don't have a drinking song! " 

You don't? We thought before you down your 
vodka you're supposed to sing something. 

Johan: "Oh, you mean, [sings] 'Helan gar, sjung 
hoppfaderallanlej. . . 'Well, maybe in certain parts 
of Sweden. Maybe only old people do it. " 

Frederik: "There's a phone number that you 
ring and it gives you the drinking song of the week." 

Josephine: "'Helan Gar' is about drinking 
everything in your glass, and if you only drank 
half you have to sing this nonsense line. " 

Are you old enough to have to sing 'Helan Gar'? 

Frederik: "I'm 45!" 

Josephine: "Somewhere between 20 and 40." 

Do your parents want you to get a proper job? 

Josephine: "No, my parents really try hard to be 
supportive. My mum called me and said, 'We heard 
a song on the radio called "Talk Talk Talk Talk" . 
Dad and me loved it.'" 

Nicholaus: "My mum wentto a medium a few 
years ago and the medium told her: 'Your son will 
make money from music', so she's really happy 
right now." 

Our parents still secretly hope that we'll quit 
with the nonsense and find something proper 
to do. 

Johan: "There aren'tthat many proper jobs left 
in Sweden; it's not that socialist haven anymore, 
anyway. Being in a band is almost a proper job." 

Can you get money from the government for 
being in a band? 

Johan: "You can apply for grants, yeah. If only 
we knew how to fill in forms" . 

What are your dayjobs? 

Markus: "I work with retarded people. 
Psychiatric healthcare." 

Johan: "I work with elderly people. I get to hear 
weird, crazy stories about the bread riot of 1912." 

Nicholaus: "I actually work with children 
with problems." 

Where does the band's name come from? 

Johan: "It was an episode of The Man From 
U.N.K.L.E., where there was this hippie cult that 
became really totalitarian, and their slogan was 
'Love Is Air, like 'Arbeit machtfrei'." 

So there you have it - Love Is All is the ultimate 
directive, and you will fall in love with them, 
whether you like it or not. They might try to deny 
the existence of the Swedish drinking song and 
help the elderly in their altruistic dayjobs, but you'd 
better not shut your ears to their saxophonic rebel 
rousing: go "urgggh!" at your peril. 



40 1 plan b 



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RAIN DANCE FILM FESTIVAL AND CACOPHONY MUSIC 

PRESENT A NIGHT OF MUSICAL AND VISUAL MAYHEM 

FEATURING ANDREW WEATHERALL 

AND KEITH TENNISWOOD AKA RADIOACTIVE MAN (LIVE SET) 

WITH DJs & VJs AND THE FINALISTS FROM THEIR 
INNOVATIVE SHORT FILM COMPETITION 



CARGO TUESDAY 23 MAY [DOORS 7PM] 

EMAIL CONNIE@CCMUSIC.CO.UK FOR FURTHER DETAILS 

ENTRY BY INVITATION ONLY 

VISIT WWW.RAINDANCEFILMFESTIVAL.ORG AND WWW.CAC0PH0NYMUSIC.COM 




tim\ raindance 

VV-jT write»produce»direct»film 







( COiDamaUiJJf > 



5 ist* 



Words: Frances May Morgan 1 I 

Photography: Simon Fernandez yf 



Words: Frances May Morgan 
Photography: Simon Fernandez 
Illustration: Oilver Neilson 



Plan B explores the secret landscape of British free music in the 
company of Glasgow's radical jazz folk mystics Scatter and Nalle 



"Freedom is the man who will turn the world upside 
downe, therefore no wonder he hath enemies. " 
GerrardWinstanley, 1649 

I hear horns and guitars and drones and stringed 
instruments I don't recognise, flinging sounds 
around with abandon and bliss, mingled with 
amassed voices that sound as if they can't hold 
in their urge to sing. I hear clattering, rag and bone 
percussion and Dictaphone rants, familiar refrains 
mixed with tunes from Eastern Europe, Morocco, 
some imaginary West-East space. I hear tension, 
drawn-out drum-rolls, and I hear happiness, times 
a hundred. Things go wrong; it doesn't matter; they 
right themselves in a flurry of cornet or a shimmer 
of bells. I hear sacred nonsense jazzfolkjoy. 

It's Scatter's first album, 2004's Surprising Sing 
Stupendous Love, released on Pickled Egg, the 
Leicester label long associated with free-pop and 
eccentric song. And the more you listen to it, the 
more it lives up to its title. At the time of its release, 
I compared it to Sun Ra, John Zorn's Masada 
band. Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Cornelius Cardew, 
Chris McGregor and Fairport Convention, and 
then I compared their second album, 777e/\//oL/nta/n 
Announces, to loads of other stuff; but all you need 
to know is that both sound like instinctive, intelligent 
explosions of love for everything music is about. 

travellers' tales 

Seen from a train window, flashing by like a film, no 
time to analyse - this country's beautiful sometimes. 
I often forget that. Then I remember with affection, 
and frustration; it's like a family member. Its greys, 
greens, reds and browns, its flooded fields and 
sheep with new lambs and birds' nests in bare trees; 
its factories and car graveyards. On a slope down 
to the edge of a wood, a green caravan and a bird 
feeder hanging from a tree. Heading north, patches 
of gorseand heather. On headphones, music, by 
turns cacophonous, heart-aching and questing, 
turning the world upside down with modes and 
rhythms, fervour and love. England to Scotland. 
NYC 1 97 1 to Sussex 1 967 to Glasgow 2005. 
Pharaoh Sanders to Shirley Collins to Scatter. 

We've no enemies, really, me and the music, 
except the possibility that one day the fervour will 
be burnt out and the journeys spent watching the 
sun break through clouds and the nights fired up 
by the possibilities of the perfect sound and the 
meeting of musical minds -those times will be 
gone. So the excitement of hearing similar sounds 
shaped and fired into new life by a new band is all 
the more keenly felt. Perhaps it's this mixed shiver 
of transience and permanence and the right now 
that awakes such an urge in me to document 
Scatter's music, its instinctual, generous, muddly 
sound that connects me to my landscape and to 
my very self. An urge to understand and set down; 
some big idea about pulling on a string that will bind 
together all the disconcerting, ancient-modern 
music of this weird country I'm speeding through. 



"Joy was a big - " Alex Neilson pauses, finds the 
word -"preoccupation." 

Was it a happy time when you made your 
first album? 

"Yeah, itwas a great time," nods Chris 
HIadowski. "We went to this studio in the east 
of Glasgow, in this big industrial block - " 

Alex: " It was completely desolate, there was 
nothing there apart from these industrial estates - " 

Chris: "Sowe'd get the train out there as 
a band, carrying all our instruments and getting 
really knackered. But itwas great fun. We had three 
intense days of recording." 

Alex: "Intuitively, we knew pretty much what 
we wanted. Having the possibility of saxophones 
and harmoniums and flutes and double bass and 
different instruments. . .It was exciting, like we'd 
been planning for it for years. Eversince I've been 
playing, I'd imagine playing with orchestras full of 
people. I can always hear more in what we're doing, 
I can always imagine. . .harps, hundreds of singers, 
more and more things." 

Although the Glasgow-based band has grown 
into a 10-piece over the last few years\ and Chris 
calculates that around 1 7 people have collaborated 



college and Alex was at the art school and we just 
met on the street one day. " 

"We were familiar with each other's playing, 
but it also seemed like we'd grown into the same 
sort of music," Alex explains. "We'd branched off 
into improvised music and things that were more 
further-reaching, more outward-looking." 

It's a nebulous place, that world you find 
when you head out a little further than the usual 
'alternatives' have allowed you so far. Free music, 
improvised music, 'other' music, call it what you 
like - it's music that relies on chance and, crucially, 
a kind of suspension of disbelief, a faith that you'll 
be taken somewhere else if you surrender to it - 
needs a way in. While an education in jazz and folk 
could be picked up via your library (or the internet), 
the more wayward sound of the sub-undergound 
that takes influence and intent from the above 
genres and puts meshes them instinctively with 
feedback and electronics, stretches their drone 
sensibilities out to infinite extremes - it works best 
in a shared setting, preferably live. Preferably, even, 
made by you yourself. 

While the online presence of small labels and 
distributors has made it much easier to navigate the 
outer reaches of music, I put it to Alex and Chris that 



'It wasn't about learning scales 
or having anything precise or clinical 
or polished, it was an attitude that 
extended beyond music' -AiexNeiison 



so far, it's fair to say that Scatter sprang originally 
from the musical partnership of drummer Alex 
Neilson and Chris HIadowski, whose lightfingers 
turn to bouzouki, guitar, zither, clarinet. They both 
sing, too, on Scatter recordings and with other 
projects (Chris's Nalle and Alex's Directing Hand). 
Put in the unfamiliar position of talking about 
their music, they react in different ways: Alex makes 
statements, seems at ease with conceptualising 
his work. Chris is more considered, more likely 
to explain one song in detail. They overlap and 
interrupt one another; music enthusiasts and friends 
from their teens in Leeds and Bradford, respectively. 

tuning in 

How did you start to play together? 

Alex: "We've been playing together since we 
were about 1 4 or 1 5, pretty much since we started 
playing instruments. We met through an ad in 
a music shop in Bradford -the band that Chris 
was in at the time wanted to recruit a drummer 
and it was like a grunge band, a punk band. . . " 

"That was quite exciting at the time, but quite 
short-lived," says Chris. "We met again about a year 
after that band split up, in Leeds. I was at music 



finding a like-minded community is important 
for any exploratory music-maker, and that such 
communities are both strong and inclusive, 
especially age-wise. 

"The music scene in Leeds has got a rich history 
of experimental music - the whole of the north of 
England, I think there's a really strong aesthetic of 
heavy, drone-based music, improvisation which 
doesn't require technique necessarily, or playing 
in an idiom," Alex says. "Itseems like there's a rich 
history of people playing communal music that's 
heavily drone-based and draws on noise and 
ambiguous sounds and colliding tones. 

" Leeds had a very good DIY music scene. 
Anyone could put on shows - it was very 
community-based. That ethic became very 
important to me. It gave us a platform to play 
on ourselves as well as playing with bands we 
have a great deal of respect for, like Vibracathedral 
Orchestra' and Ashtray Navigations." 

From Leeds, the next stop was Glasgow, 
where Alex's brother Oliver (who provides the 
crackling spoken narrations to Scatter's music) 
was based. The intention was to study, and 
to continue playing in a musically fertile city. 

plan b 1 43 




'I'd never really heard drone music and improvised music 
collide with British traditional music, so that was 
something I was keen to explore' -AiexNeiison 



"Alex's brother had this flat next to a garage, 
and you could make as much noise as you liked," 
Chris recalls. 

"You could just play all night, and talk about 
it and analyse what you were doing and talk 
about common objectives," says Alex. "Not just 
musically...lt's hard to describe." 

Chris explains, "When we moved up to 
Glasgow, it seemed like an exciting place. Having 
come from putting on our own gigs in Leeds, it 
took a bit of time to adapt: it almost seemed like 
the scene we expected to find had almost come full 
circle. I guess we used that flat as a refuge as much 
as a place to play music. We had clear ideas that we 
wanted to get a band together as well. " 

He continues, "At our first gigs,it would be just 
me and Alex. I'd just fall to the floor trying to play 

further listening 1: things I like 

The Watersons: A Yorkshire Garland (Topic) 1966 
compilation of songs from Yorkshire by Hull's first family of 
folk. Mostly unaccompanied, and beautifully rough-hewn. 
Sun Ra: Space Is The Place (Blast First) You probably 
already have this: bonkers and lovely, outer-spaceways 
collective joy to the max. 

Cornelius Cardew: The Great Learning (Deutsche 
Grammophon) Massed 1972 experimental piece by 
radical British composer, based on Eza Pound's translations 
of Chinese poetry, using the Scratch Orchestra, a group 
of professional and amateur musicians. 
Shirley Collins: The Sweet Primeroses (Topic) Just 
one of many heart-stopping recordings by unique, ethereal 
and rightly revered Sussex singer and curator. 



1 different parts, so we got more people involved. 
You can't play 500 parts on one instrument." 

"I thinkwhatwas important in recruiting people 
was having a sensibility where you could abandon 
any idea of technique," interjects Alex. "It wasn't 
about learning scales or having anything precise or 
clinical or polished, it was an attitude that extended 
beyond music. Just being open to the idea of chaos 
in a very whole-hearted way, and being willing to 
improvise and really mean what you're doing." 

sublime frequencies 

" It seemed retarded to me that you had people 
who tell you what to play and what not to play 
- 1 was always interested in just fucking it up and 
looking beyond that, " says Alex. This assertion is 
common currency among young musicians with 



Broken Blackbird Ensemble (Early Winter 

Recordings) Lovely free-folk group-playing from ongoing 

Sheffield collective. " Righteous and rousing; witchy and 

possessed; peace-with-intent" - Plan B 

Richard Youngs and Matthew Bower: Relayer (VHP) 

Rightly described by VHF as "two stalwart titans of the true 

UK underground", Youngs and Bower take guitar and 

electronics into rainbow-hued galaxies. Awesome. 

Chris McGregor's Brotherhood Of Breath: 

Travelling Somewhere (Cuneiform) 

Joyful, accessible Seventies big band free jazz, with massed 

horns and a mighty collective sound. 

Albert Ayler: Live At Greenwich Village (Impulse) 

Ayler in full flow, virtuosic and transcendent. 



a taste for the extreme. Chris, meanwhile, went 
straight from school to music college before 
choosing instead to study history and anthropology. 

"I really wanted to learn music," he says. 
"But I quickly got disillusioned by it. Itwas all very 
conventional." But what interests about Scatter 
is that they turn this antagonism into something 
fresh and mobile; creative, not destructive. There's 
none of the weird creeping menace you hear in 
the industrial-based folk experimentations of, say. 
Current 93. You can hear antagonism, opposition 
and idealism in Alex's insistent, outer-reaches 
drumming, or Oliver's verses, or Matt Cairns' 
cornet fanfares but they're combined with lush 
swathes of harmony and drone that build until 
the music's like a tower whose top is in the clouds. 
And then there's the band's unashamed love of 
melody, and traditional melody at that. 

"There's a lot to be said for all learning the same 
melody," Chris says. "You share it or bounce off 
each other, and then go off in different directions 
and do something really cacophonous that is equally 
instructed by the melody. . . Everyone in the band 
has an interest in melody. There's no distinction 
between parts - no idea of a 'rhythm section', as 
opposed to lead players. It's all very integrated." 

Where much improvised music abides by a 
convention of un-convention that decrees settling 
anywhere isjust plain wrong. Scatter work mainly 
within song form, with all the narrative structure, 
emotion and personality that that implies. Like 
the best work of fellow Glasgow dweller Richard 
Youngs^ which trips out on feedback loops and 
trances out with drones, and then slays you with 
a gorgeous verse, a love song or a prayer tangled 



44 1 plan b 



scatter 



in electric guitar strings - Scatter tap into a tradition 
of transcendent song that's all the more powerful 
for being distilled through noise and chaos. 

Although they draw on traditional music from 
other countries, and American free jazz of the early 
Seventies, I'd argue there's something intrinsically 
and inexpressibly British in their sound and in 
their working method: something that draws on 
traditions of idealistic, communal music-making 
and devotional music, and a more modern one in 
which noise and chance are explored as a conduit 
for that devotion. There's also an implicit sense of 
the supernatural or the spirit world, but channelled 
via the nuts and bolts of improvisation, of hands-on 
involvement with music. 

root notes 

Here's the folk bit, and here's why it's important. 

So I got an email from the ICA, about the new 
folk night that they're having every month. It looks 
kind of nice, but at the bottom it says, " Friday 28 
April's /?oots/\nc/ 5/700tsfeatures the launch of 
Rob da Bank's (BBC Radio One/Bestival) new folk 
compilation. Folk Off, featuring tracks by King 
Creosote, Tunng and more." 

Regardless of the individual merits of the artists 
involved, such a compilation must surely signal 
some kind of grim tipping point for the acoustic 
music revival of the last few years. The crass 
blanding out of folk-influenced music that will 
inevitably accompany its move into the mainstream 
will, while potentially bringing some interesting 
artists to public notice, result in general fatigue for 
anything associated with folk music, or the notion 
of folk. And, while this won't affect Scatter, or 
Sheffield's James Green, say, or London's Alexander 
Tucker, or the many other practitioners of British 
free folk/drone/other music, there is the possibility 
that it'll dissuade potential, more casual listeners 
from approaching anything that comes with odd 
acoustic instrumentation and even vaguely pastoral, 
mystical or Utopian subject matter. And suddenly, 
the vacillations of musical trends - and the media's 
role in supporting that process - seem even 
more absurd and cruel than usual. Musically, 
ideologically, it feels as if the only way is out, 
and as far out as possible. 

Luckily, a few days before that. Scatter release 
Ttie Mountain Announces (Blank Tapes). It uses 
as its source material the same ecstatic jazz that 
inspired the first, and again draws upon folk music 
from Britain, Greece, Egypt, Morocco, channelling 
these influences to a point where their melodic 
and thematic possibilities are turned inside out 
and upside down and woven back together with 
such love and bloody-mindedness that it takes my 
breath away. 

It is the polar opposite of the aforementioned 
Rob da Bank comp, which I keep expecting to find 
out is some Wce-ish joke. Rather than sticking to 
some retrogressive spin cycle, signalling innovation 
via the lamination of singer-songwriter stuff with 
some digital trickery. The Mountain Announces is 
proudly timeless and wonderfully of its time^ 

"I remember taking two CDs to where we were 
recording in this beautiful farmhouse in rural 
Aberdeenshire," says Alex, "and one CD was this 
LaMonteYoung album called 5 F/af Dor/an 5/ues. 
The other one was by Margaret Barry, who was an 
Irish gipsy singer, and although to the majority of 
people they would probably sound poles apart, 
they seemed to be part of the same stream, to me. " 

How did you feel they were similar? 

"Because maybe within traditional music I can 
detect a heavy drone sensibility. It's hard to explain, 
but the sound of the human voice, unaccompanied, 
just implies to me infinity; like a constant stream, 
a timeless stream. LaMonte Young's music sounded 
the same to me. Free improvisation, free jazz sounds 
the same. It all seems to be part of the same source. 



in a hidden place 

Words: Frances May Morgan 
Photography: Simon Fernandez 



Glasgow trio Nalle take 
notes from nature and 
, create their own folklore 





Nalle's music plays with time: 
stretches it out, slows it down 
to a pace of dreamlike wonder. 
IVIaybe it's just the drone, created 
by Scatter's Chris HIadowski, Hanna 
Tuulikki and AbyVulliamy with 
viola, voice, shruti box. But just 
above the drone, you find plucked 
strings -guitar, bouzouki, oud, 
kantele - and above that, sharp, 
shaky singing. Ancient-sounding 
tales of bears and ravens and love 
create an eerie temporal zone of 
their own, narrated by a girl whose 
urgent voice holds a hiccup of 
laughter or a tremor of fear, as well 
as the promise of serenity. 

On Nalle's debut album, 
By Chance Upon Waking, there's 
magic all around: transformations 
from human to bird; the changing 
seasons; or simply the progress of 
day into night. You emerge from it 
as if from deep in a book, blinking; 
noticing that evening's fallen while 



What does Nalle mean? 

Hanna: "It means teddy bear, 
or little bear in Finnish. Nalle was 
my childhood toy that I used to take 
everywhere; like a transition object 
between me and the world. Music 
for us is a bit like that." 

Aby: "In child development you 
usually have a transitional object, 
a bear or a blanket..." 

Chris: "I used to have a... it 
looked a bit like a tadpole. It was 
this luminous green thing with 
rattling eyes." 

Aby: "...And it really matters. 
You need it to feel secure." 

Hanna: "I think Nalle makes us 
feel secure. Maybe. Sometimes." 

Aby: "It's also about transition 
between yourself and others. . .when 
you're learning that you're not 
omnipotent, like a two-year-old 
thinks they're omnipotent. . . " 

Chris: "I've got an image of this 
interview now - 'Nalle are a bunch 



Like the music of Scatter, 
Nalle's songs draw on the simplicity 
and universal themes of traditional 
musics, and a sense of joy and 
wonder at pretty much everything. 

Is that childlike? When I hear 
'Ravens', Hanna keening, "We're 
all going to end the same way", 
I remember not the safety of 
childhood, but rather the fears, 
the awareness of encroaching 
adulthood and death. And yet 
this feeling, a cliche in itself, isn't 
romanticised in Nalle's music. It's 
just there; natural as time passing. 

Hanna herself bounds into the 
kitchen of her and Chris' flat in 
Glasgow, excited about the local 
Russian Orthodox choir she's just 
joined and asking me loads of 
questions. Chris has been cooking 
dinner, playing me a CD of Ostad 
Elhai's Iranian tanbour music. When 
I switch on the tape to start the 
interview, there's an awkward 
pause, and laughter. The lights go 



plan b 1 45 



scatter 



which is deeply human. I didn't think we were doing 
anything especially new with that album, but I'd 
never really heard drone music and improvised 
music collide with British traditional music, so that 
was something I was keen to explore." 

"One of the songs ['She Moved Through The 
Fayre'] is drawn from a Margaret Barry recording, 
and we used the drone as a platform for the song 
almost," says Chris. 

"The way Margaret Barry plays it, her playing 
sounds so free, " Alex continues. "The nearest point 
of comparison to it is Sonny Sharrock or Thurston 
Moore. It just seems like truly punk music. And it's 
what folk music always implied to me." 

"There's another song called 'The Dowie 
Dens Of Yarrow', which is a Scottish song from 
Aberdeenshire," explains Chris. "It was adapted 
from the text rather than the song itself. I got this 
book of Scottish ballads, and reading the text of 
that ballad - 1 6 verses - the text itself seemed so 
melodic, I almost started singing along to it. I was 
listening to a lot of rebetika music from Greece and 
there was a melody that just stuck in my head, and 
the words seemed to fit exactly with the melody. 
I adapted it and played it on the bouzouki. So it's 
not orally transmitted or anything, I wasjust fusing 
these things together. " 

" I played that song to my granddad, who's 
Scottish," Alex says, "and apparently his mother 
used to sing it to him as a lament, and he wasn't 
outraged as such, but- " 

A bit shocked? 

" It's a good song - but very twisted. It's one of 
the weirdest songs on the album," Chris asserts. 
" It's one of the few folk songs that's rooted in 
a specific place. So it's interesting that we've taken 
that and matched it with a rebetika song, but it's 
still got a sense of place in the lyrics. " 

"A lot of topics that traditional folk music deals 
with in a vocal way are another parallel I find with 
improvised music," states Alex. "A lot of the issues 
are very similar." 

What do you mean? 

"These universal topics. They deal with very 
basic human emotions. They're using these songs 
to speak about these universal themes and the 
characters are condemned to these situations 
eternally. It's like the songs are alchemical agents, 
a wayof dealing with situations in order to 
transform into something else or get a more 
fully realised idea about yourself and humanity. 
In that way it's similar to improvised music, in 
that you're dealing with base material, and by 
subjecting yourself to difficult situations you're 
able to transcend that situation. I don't know if 
that makes sense." 

Chris adds, "If you give the words this meaning 
that they have within them, through that you can 
reach another point. Maybe the same thing applies 
to musical forms. It's about bringing words or 
a tune to life. It's a lot easier said than done. " 

statements of intent 

And yet - among the rivers and dying lovers and 
ghosts and eternity of Scatter's folk-based lyrics, 
the cut-up wordplay of Oliver Neilson reverberates 
and keeps the listener on their toes, the way his 
collaged sleeve designs for Scatter and Directing 
Hand juxtapose humour, confusion and dream-like 
imagery. His sardonic delivery propels the music in 
more urgent directions, calling to mind private and 
public conflict. It's almost the anti-folk: and Oliver 
cites personal inspirations (see right) as being El-P, 
Silver Jews' David Berman and Pearls Before Swine. 

Alex: "Again, it illustrates our interest in a lot 
of different things beyond musical styles. We're all 
interested in poetry, literature, visual art, whatever 
- it's dealing with basic human concerns. " 

His lyrics are interesting because they're much 
more rooted in the present day. Do you think this 



off as the electricity meter runs out, 
and, now joined by Aby, we talk by 
candlelight. 

Hanna and Chris met at a gig 
at Glasgow's Art School, where 
Hanna is a student. 

Hanna: "I asked Chris out! 
I never ask people out..." 

" Neither do I, so it's a good job 
you did." 

"We didn't start playing straight 
away, because I was scared," Hanna 
continues. 

Chris disagrees, "No, the first 
date we had, you played to me! " 

"Did I?" 

Their first gig as a duo was in an 
old Glasgow music hall. "Everybody 
thought it was lovely, that it was the 
two of you, " says Aby, already a 
friend and bandmate of Chris'. 

"Then we were looking for 
another musician, and Aby fitted 
in perfectly," says Chris. 

Whatthings inspire you? 

Hanna: "Fairytales." 

Aby: "Folklore." 

Hanna: "This idea of archetypal 
symbols that crop up in different 
cultures all over the world, and 
these symbols appear in our dreams 
and in folk stories and folk songs. 
They're very beautiful because they 
speak beyond words." 



arbitrary," explains Chris. "So he's 
invented this grand myth that's 
drawn from the pool of folk songs. 
We use that as source material and 
deconstruct it again, so we turn it 
back into a new kind of folklore." 

Nalle's music deconstructs folk 
conventions in ways other than 
subject matter. While the band use 
acoustic instruments and draw 
deep from old melodies, their 
approach to the sonics of what they 
do is immediately modern; from 
a generation schooled in electronic 
music or avant-rock. Instruments are 
approached instinctively, each one 
a potential vehicle for much more 
than the sound that 'should' come 
from it. An odd noise, a wrong noise, 
the way a string resonates - these 
all part of the magic. Aby talks of the 
music she hears in "The wind in the 
trees or in footsteps. It's all music." 

Chris says, "That's a reason why 
I really enjoy playing in the group 
- it seems almost as if we're as one, 
and it has this vein running through 
it that you can tap into. It seems 
very direct." 

Is nature a big inspiration? 
"Definitely," says Hanna. 

Do any particular places mean 
a lot to you? 

Aby: " I think the excitement 
is going to different places. We 



amazing. It was before Bob Copper 
died and I remember him putting his 
hand on his son's knee while he was 
singing. There was this immense 
connection between the family 
members playing music together." 

Chris: "I never grew up with 
folk music at all, but I did a lot of 
experimenting and making a racket. 



felt a desire to listen to Eastern 
European music, and through that 
I started exploring folk music." 

Aby: "One of my grannies was 
Scottish, and I hated the sound 
of bagpipes; my other granny was 
Hungarian, and I never listened to 
Hungarian music. It's only since I've 
been in Glasgow I've been in touch 
with folk music. The first band I was 
in was a funk band. I like the idea 
of going to different places and 
learning things from different 
people and cultures. Since leaving 
home, I've taken my viola with 
me wherever I've gone." 

Do Nalle play folk music? 

Hanna: "It's not folk music. I 
don't think you could call it that. " 

Whatwouldyoucallit? 

"A friend talks about Nalle as 
folk music from a mythical land. I 
think that's a really nice summing 
up... maybe..." Hanna falters. 



'We've been attempting to 
communicate with birds' -Hanna Tuuiikki 



Aby adds, "I'm a music 
therapist, and that feeds into my 
work as a musician: music therapy 
is all about communicating, and 
making connections with people 
using sound." 

What's the attraction of folklore 
in a modern world? 

Hanna: "It's something that's 
carried through history and I think 
it's as relevant today as thousands 
of years ago. It's an understanding 
of human beings on this planet." 

Chris says, "One song's based 
on this Finnish epic, Kalevala- 

Hanna takes up the thread: 
"- by Elias Lonnrot; he went round 
Finland [in the early 1 9th Century] 
collecting folk songs." 

"Something I find interesting is 
that it was compiled - it's kind of 



practised in Germany by the 
Danube, and there were cocks 
crowing and people on boats. . . " 

" Recently we've begun playing 
a lot more outside," says Hanna. 
"We've been attempting to 
communicate with birds." 

Has it worked? 

Chris says carefully, "You get 
a sense that it has." 

Aby: " Hanna was finding out 
about the marsh warbler, which 
doesn't really have its own sonq, it 



and it picks up and responds to the 
different songs. I like to think of it as 
adapting to the environment and 
finding ways to communicate." 

Hanna: "I remember seeing the 
Copper family in Sussex. That was 



Chris: "I've thought about it lots, 
and it's a useless label. Folk music is 
kind of an invention. You could go so 
far as to say it doesn't really exist. " 

What it means to me is music 
that has a kind of enduring sense of 
identity, whether it's real or 
constructed or imaginary. 

" Maybe when we're older we'll 
look back on it," Chris says, "and 
have a clearer idea of what we were 
trying to do." 

For now, though, all the clarity 
you need is there on record, in 
Nalle's icy, sunny soundworld. 
It sounds like a hermetic space, 
a magic circle , but Hanna assures 
me that they're playing with more 
"people and things" than before. 
She laughs: "People... Humans, 
non-humans and the environment." 



further listening 2: Scatter's 
Oliver Neilson selects five key 
records 

Talking Heads: Remain in Light /El-P: Fantastic 
Damage Head music, hip music.These two records are 
like adrenalin injections to my heart. Like a lot of records 
that are so densely compacted with ideas, at first they're 
unlovable.lt takes a good few listens to un-knot all the 
intricacies and sonic details. Remain In Light\s swarming 
with melodies; it's like insectoid King Sunny Ade. New York 
meets the Bahamas. Beneath the pavement: the beach. 
Fantastic Damage sounds like a city block, a muscular, 
hulking building of a record with a voice calling from 
every window. Beats like palpitations,Burroughsian 
flows.Beneath the pavement: the abyss. 



Silver Jews: The Natural Bridge David Berman: at last 
here was a spokesmanlSongs of fragmentation and 
meaninglessness;doom, humour, observations, vignettes, 
images, ideas, one-liners... 

Kronos Quartet: Howl USA The aural equivalent of the 
monochrome dustbowls of Walker Evans and the verite - 
noir of Weegee, it turns Cold War America into cold, jagged 
music. But it's not so much the music as the texts it brings 
together: hobo graffiti turned into songs, and the voices of 
J Edgar Hoover, IF Stone and Allen Ginsberg. 
Pearls before Swine Everyday tales of cosmic mystery, 
but more like a Symbolist painting than the day-glo sound 
Rorschachs put out by many a late 60's boutique-mystic. 
Thom Rapp's songs are written from the POV of space, 
even when doing upbeat country in Nashville, galloping 
across Proxima Centauri as if it were the Rio Grande. 



plan b 1 47 




r 



/ 



i 




I 






'It's about bringing words to life or 
bringing a tune to life. It's a lot easier 
said than done' -chrisHiadowski 



works well with the more ancient-sounding ideas; 
maybe stops you being nostalgic? 

Chris considers this. "But it's strange, though, 
when you talk about nostalgia," he says. "Because 
when I listen to a folk song it might not sound 
nostalgic at all, it might sound very current. Whereas 
Oliver's references to popular culture or whatever 
are in themselves quite nostalgic. It's a difficult line 
to draw. Sometimes the everyday can be the most 
nostalgic stuff in your life. " 

And what of the recent vogue for folk music? 

"On a purely practical level, economically, 
there's been a whole series of recordings like the 
Voice Of The People, and other things, being re- 
released^" Chris offers. "Things come round in 
cycles and each generation gets exposed to folk 
music in a very different way. " 

Alex: " But what you're talking about - well, 
it seems that people are considered 'folk' if they 
play acoustic guitar." 

Chris, sounding tired, says, "We've never been 
interested in that, though. . .It's impossible to define 
folk. If people think it's folk, then well, they can 
think that if they want. " 

Chris is writing his anthropology dissertation 
on folk music. He's interviewed Martin Carthy 
and Shirley Collins, and is showing signs of having 
thought about a subject for long enough. 

" It does seems to be a trend thing," Alex 
continues. "A lot of people think folk music started 
in 1 975 with Pentangle, or whatever, and then they 
do an umpteenth generation removed version of 
this appropriated idea, which seems so far removed 
from anything I would think of as folk music. 
But there are pockets of people up and down 

48 1 plan b 



the country who just do it. They've never been 
concerned with fashion and trying to make it big. 
They just put on their own gigs and release their 
own records. It doesn't have to be sanctioned by 
anybody else, which seems to me to be the real folk 
music. Liberated people." 

Appropriately, he's paraphrasing his friend and 
mentor, David Keenan, who wrote about this a few 
years back in relation to US bands such as 
Sunburned Hand Of the Man, Scorces, Tower 
Recordings etal. "Matt Valentine^ said, 'Free folk is 
by liberated people' - people who reclaim feelings, 
reclaim creativity and want to do music because 
that's what life is about. " 

So what's happening next for Scatter? 

"The line-up changes all the time," Alex begins. 

"It's important to stay with that," says Chris. 
"It's importantto keep changing." 

Alex adds, "We're all engaged in other musical 
projects as well, which fulfil other needs.^" 

" It's important to go off in these different 
directions," says Chris. "It may sound really cheesy, 
but it's the whole idea of scattering, and bringing 
these ideas back together. Maybe it'll coalesce, and 
then we'll come up with something new." 

I'd expect nothing less. 

On the way back to London, the train takes 
a different route, passing right next to a grey-blue 
sea. I'm staring out the window, music in my 
headphones. Yeah, this country's beautiful 
sometimes. And right now, it seems Scatter's 
jumbled, elegant sound is woven into its very fabric; 
moving like the waves hitting dark, jagged rocks. 

I can't wait to see what they do next. 



m 



u 



7™ 



t#« 



NOTES 

1. Currently, besides Alex and Chris, Oliver Neilson (vocals, 
visuals), Hanna Tuulikki (Vocals), Aby Vulliamy (viola), George 
Murray (trombone), Martin Beer (double bass), Matt Cairns 
(cornet), Isobel Campbell (cello), Morag Wilson (harmonium) 

2. Long-serving Leeds noise/bliss collective whose live and 
studio releases are way too many to list here: check 
www.vhfrecords.com for some good ones. Alex Neilson 
describes his early experience of the band: "A lot of people 

in the service of one sound, this drone that was ecstatic. They 
weren't really exhibiting what they could do in a way that was 
technically orientated. It just seemed like they were playing 
and screaming together in the service of this one thing. It 
was really cathartic. That had a really big effect on me. I could 
just imagine a group of people all of the one mind. " 
See also: Ashtray Navigations, Volcano The Bear, Daniel 
Padden's One Ensemble. 

3. Where to start? Guitarist, experimenter and singer Richard 
Youngs has been amassing his strange and lovely recordings 
since the early Nineties. Immediately, his synthesis of 
traditional music and experimental composition and 
instinctive oddness makes him very much of the same tribe 
as Scatter. Making Paper, May, Airs OfTlie Ear, River Tlirough 
l-lowling S/ry- all essential, and available on Jagjaguwar. 

4. If I had to soundtrack a film with Tlie Mountain Announces, 
I wouldn't pick the Hammer-style pagan-schlock of Tlie 
IV/c^erMan (one of the enduring reference points for 

the current new-folk crop, signifying their retro cultural 
awareness: the soundtrack itself a brilliant pastiche). It's 
more aligned to Kevin Brownlow's 1 975 mock-documentary, 
Winstanley, which charted the rise and fall of the Digger 
movement in muddy blacks and whites; or sometimes it's 
reminiscent of the sun-scorched psychedelic desert of 
Jodorowsky's El Topo. And then again, it brings to mind 
Powell and Pressburger's obscure (and bonkers) Fifties 
Shropshire-girl-with-pet-fox tragedy, Gone To Eartli.. . 

5. The best of these being, possibly, the Honest Jons release, 
Never Tlie Same: Leave-Taking From The British Folk Revival 
1970-77, which charts the going back underground of folk 
music after its late-Sixties boom in popularity. Beautiful songs 
from Lai Waterson, Aly Bain, Dorothy Elliott etal; typically 
thorough sleevenotes on the history of producer Bill Leader's 
pioneering independent labels, on which these recordings 
were originally released. 

6. Of US free-folkers MV And EE Medicine Show and Tower 
Recordings. 

7. Alex Neilson's work with Richard Youngs, his Directing 
Hand project, which explores the outer edges of the 
percussion, brass and voice, and his recent incarnation 
as drummer for reclusive Texan bluesman Jandek, as well 
as promoting new music with David Keenan's Volcanic 
Tongue distribution outlet, make this something of 

an understatement. 



KH-UEVSTOl-TZ 



ON" TOTTH 

IRON ^ WINE 

APfSiL 21 - Academy, M^ntth^st^r 

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APRIL 23 ' Forum, London 



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Across 






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New single released April 

17th on limited-edition 7" 

and download. 

"2006 is going to be their 

year" (Daily Telegraph) 

As see on tour 

with Beth Orton. 

Live at The Luminaire in 

London on Tues 25th April. 

www. wegot tickets .com/knom 

www. ticketweb.co.uk 




Tuimg 
Woodcat 



New single released 24th 
April on limited-edition 
7" and download. 
"Spell -binding 
and beguiling" 
(Independent On Sunday) 
Live at Cargo in London 
on Wed May 3rd. 
www. ticketweb.co.uk 
www. seetickets .com 
See www . tunng .co.uk 
for more live dates 



www. fulltimehobby.co.uk www.eatsleeprecords .com 
www.clayhillmusic.com www. tunng.co.uk 




Whirlwind KEAI 



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www.bcarEuht.tia.Dk 




EP out 10/04/06 

www.whirlwindheat.com 

www.briiierecords.com 




^l 4 4k fetfk^ 



Words: Lee Smith, Ralph Cowling, Daniel Trilling 

Illustrations (from left): Matt Pattinson, Emily Twomey, Marine, Phil Elliott 

(over page): John Bagnall, David Bailey 



Who does Richard D James aka AFX aka Aphex Twin think he is? 



The history of electronic music has been raked over, 
refuted, retold and re-branded so extensively across 
the media in the last few years that it sometimes 
seems a small wonder that figures like Richard D 
James still manage to exist. Fifteen years on from his 
first major release {Ambient Works Vol 1), Aphex 
Twin has writhed his way around rave's mixed 
fortunes to forge out a career that firmly establishes 
him as an artist capable not only of breaking way 
beyond the conventional limits of 'dance music', 
but of music in general. He's sculpted a fascinating, 
contradictory, deeply unusual public persona that 
has evidently served him well -while the vast bulk of 
electronic music is stereotypically created by studio 
engineer bores or socially awkward bedroom geeks, 
James, a frightening-looking ginger tearaway from 
Cornwall, has twisted both those preconceptions 
into his own highly-managed, highly affected air 
of genius-like eccentricity. 

As his first full artist album since 2001 's Drukqs 
makes its way to the shelves, the time seems ripe 
to ask: who does Richard D James think he is? 

Born on 1 8 August 1 971 in Ireland, but raised 
in Truro, Cornwall, Richard was famously named 
after his older brother, who died at birth in Canada. 
In a typically self-referential, but simultaneously 



moving tribute, he placed his brother's tombstone 
on the cover of his 'Girl/Boy' EP, a move that 
illustrates Aphex Twin's confounding but often 
deeply thoughtful style. 

He claims that as a child he never listened to 
music, but did enjoy, "Making noises and banging 
on things" . His fascination with the darker corners 
of childhood has remained an obsession in his work, 
from the obvious suggestions of titles like 'Come 
To Daddy', and the hellish pubescent screech of 
1 992 's 'Tampax' {"Are you one of those girls, for 
whom time stands still, once a month?" repeats the 
vocal, atop a blistering sheets of industrial noise), 
to the predilection for giant teddy bears on stage, 
and lyrics like, "/ would like to drink some milk from 
the milkman's wife's tits". But this is only a tiny 
fragment of the vast, murky coagulation of humour, 
weirdness, beauty and anger that make up Aphex 
Twin's bewildering discography. 

His history, in the absence of many interviews 
(and even those are conducted largely in email 
snippets), has been documented time and 
time again, with James frequently enhancing, 
exaggerating or simply inventing numerous 'facts' 
about himself. His first release, 1 991 's 'Analogue 
Bubblebath' EP, hinted at the wayward talent yet to 



come - particularly in the deranged aboriginal 
rave-up of 'Didgeridoo'. He claims to have been 
modifying and building his own synths since the 
age of 1 3, and wanted a track to play at the end of 
raves he DJed at in Cornwall. "I wanted to really kill 
everyone off, so they couldn't dance any more," he 
once said. Indeed, the track's hyper-kinetic drums, 
relentless acid warbling and manic, bug-eyed 
aggressiveness sounded absolutely unlike anything 
around at the time. 

Belgium's famed techno stronghold R&S records 
released h\s Ambient Works 85-92 album in 1992. 
Impossibly fragile at points, but strangely sturdy 
and mechanical at others, it was the sound of 
Eno's ghosts floating sadly around Detroit techno's 
pristine perimeters. Along with The Orb, he was 
hailed as the flag-bearer for the emerging ambient 
techno scene of the early Nineties, but the 
differences between the two acts are distinct. 
While The Orb revelled unashamedly in hours of 
freeform randomness and sound collage, Aphex's 
increasingly edgy productions always seemed to 
have an urgency, or purpose, as if somewhere 
beneath the layers of trickery and electronic 
manipulation, there lay some indefinable answer 
to the unending series of riddles the music posed. 




The sound of Eno's ghosts floating 
sadly around Detroit techno's pristine 
perimeters 



As hardcore turned ever darker and British 
labels like Warp started looking for a change in 
direction, James entered a new phase with the 
transmogrification of ambient into more specifically 
electronic 'home listening' or 'intelligent' techno. 
Warp's Artificial Intelligence series featured Aphex 
Twin alongside similarly minded acts such as 
Autechre, The Black Dog, Mike Paradinas, Luke 
Vibert and Tom 'Squarepusher' Jenkins. 

Selected Ambient Works Volume 2, his next full 
length opus, was perhaps the first indication that 
Aphex Twin could indeed suffer from a predilection 
for self-absorption and even laziness. Virtually 
beatless and formless, it lacked the definitive 
character of his other work, and, like a lot of similar 
music from the era, it feels strangely out-of-place 
when you hear it today. From here, he embarked 
on a long-running trail of remixes for a bizarre range 
of artists, some of which have subsequently been 
compiled on 2003's 26 Mixes For Cash. 

Around this same period, he also purchased 
a tank, and allegedly, a submarine. He conducted an 
interview in a helicopter, and DJed in New York by 
playing scraps of sandpaper. The constant attention 
seeking seemed to be source of amusement for an 
easily bored James, but as time wore on, some 



confessions of an english idm-eater 

I remember once seeing some ginger in a club with loads of blood-drained obsessive looking white 
backpackers surrounding him. The gelid light in the room - parsed through cheap and abundant dry ice 
- illuminated the bare-bone paranoia of the atmosphere faster than you can say "James Jesus Moreno 
Angleton is on the phone" . At this point I realised Richard D James was in the building, and that was 
what all the shuffling fuss was about. "What the hell is this?" I remember thinking to myself, only later to 
understand the strange phenomenon of the IDM 'backpack brigade' and its corresponding sycophantic 
uneasiness. This sickly ego-feeding frenzy is the fuel behind the PR-lit fire of the many rumours about 
RDJs life -everything from "he's never had a shave" to "he lives on a sub marine/tank/I DM aeroplane/ 
in a cave/bunker/missile silo" . The modus, since day zero, of most chat (both in the industry and in fan 
groups) about the ginger millionaire in question seems to be obscuring or completely missing the point: 
that Aphex Twin (or, more recently, AFX) makes really good synth and sample-based music. Lately, we've 
all been impressed by the /\na/orc/ series, picking out our favourites and playing them in venues ranging 
from tiny house parties to all night raves in south east London (for further reference, hear the aptly-named 
'Pissed Up In SE1 ' on Analord2). Most of it is fuelled by twisting acid-style basslines that coil around the 
listener until the music is so close it's almost like strangulation (good strangulation, that is). 

Perhaps it's this method of making music, drawing listeners ever deeper, that causes such incredibly 
obsessive and misguided tailgaiting. Or maybe the reason for all of the largely inaccurate hyperbole 
can be filtered down to monumental jealousy, excited by a strange cult of intrigue and fantasy. See the 
'We Are The Music Makers' forum (http://forum.watmm.com) for more on this: it's a fan site/discussion 
forum harbouring a dizzying number of posts about everything from the lyrics in 'Come On You Slags' 
to scrutinising personal email correspondence with Radio 1 DJs. 

It's enough to make any rational human paranoid. 
Ralph Cowling 



plan b I 51 






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Chosen Lords (Rephlex) 

Poor old Richard D James. It's not his fault that his music 
generates inch upon column inch of waffle from coked-up 
divs - he just wants to get sexy. And Chosen Lords is 
the culmination of a master plan to do just that. 

First off, record a series of tracks on vintage analogue 
synths. Release them as a series of limited edition 1 0-inch 
records, replete with a special leather-bound collectors' case. 
That gets rid of all us dorks. (Oh, and call the series Analord, 
just for a laugh.) 

Secondly, release 1 of the tracks on CD format. Sucker 
in the hotties with seductive sine wave washes and skittering 
beats, so they get all relaxed and comfortable. Let them 
settle into the album, gently rubbing and tweaking their 
synapses until, when they least expect it, blam ! Hit them 
with a throbbing disco pulse, yearning melody and sensuous 
bass line until their socks are hanging from the auto-bulb. 

Finally, once the sticky stuff is over, sign off with a pretty 
little 'I'll call you' number and make your way quietly out the 
backdoor. Bad-a-bing. 

Honestly, who else but a total perv would bury the best 
three minutes and 48 seconds of sound ever right near the 
end of an album and call it 'PWSteal.Ldpinch.D'? 

The dirty bastard. 
Daniel Trilling 

52 I plan b 



listeners began to question whether he was taking 
the piss out of them as much as anything else. 

His following LPs, / Care Because You Do (1 995) 
and Richard D James 0996) returned to more beat- 
driven territory. It wasn't until 1 997's Come To 
Dac/c/y that James really managed to encapsulate, 
with tremendous force, what he was capable of. 
Aphex worked the embryonic potential of software 
synthesis to its absolute limits, constructing a 
virtuoso arrangement of dazzling, hyper-intricate 
beats, a seemingly limitless palette of ideas and 
directions, and a profoundly disturbing, satanic 
sentiment. Combined with Chris Cunningham's 
video, it broke new ground just at a time when it 
looked like electronic music had nothing left to 
prove. Along with Windowlickerln 1 999, it broke 
Aphex Twin on MTV, and allowed him the freedom 
to release next to nothing until 2001 's Drukqs. 

Rumours abound, of course, as to the true 
origins of the album. James likes to state that it was 
rushed out because the DAT had been stolen, that 
he wanted to avoid it getting on the web, and that it 
had never been intended for release. Others, 
however, have said that the album's introspection, 
challenging structure and lack of novelty hints that 
he just wanted to break his contract with Warp. 



And true enough, his output since then -the 
aforementioned remix album and his series of 
'Analord' singles - has been released on his co- 
owned Rephlex imprint under the AFX moniker. 

The return of Apex Twin - or AFX, as he now 
seems to be known - is always an event for 
electronic music. His new album is being heralded 
as a change in direction, though those who've 
collected the vinyl-only Analord series will have 
some idea of what to expect. He's dispensed with 
the maddeningly aggressive drill n' bass, and the 
prepared piano 'segments' are nowhere to be seen. 
Instead, he's looked backwards, to both his own 
early work (the charming shadows oi Ambient 
Worlds 1985-92 seep through into the album's 
melodic fabric at numerous points) and the work of 
his techno, electro, and acid house contemporaries. 
It's undeniably Aphex Twin, but it shows a more 
relaxed Richard D James. 

Perhaps, like others of his generation, he's tired 
of assaulting his senses. Perhaps, now free to release 
as he wishes, he can start to dismantle and ref igure 
the old, difficult, cantankerous Aphex into a more 
harnessed, fulfilled artist. Most likely, though, 
he couldn't care less. And that in itself makes him 
worth investigating. 



TWO GALLANTS 





WHAT THE TOLL TELLS 

CD/2XtJ' - OUT BTOW 




•••* - Q 



* ' , A &reat Secord. A Great 
/ ' Work." 8/10 - mtE 

"a rough'-liewn cliaria." **** 
^^ - The Independent 





STEADY ROLLIN* 

CD/7 inch - OUT HOW 

17 Sila^ - DliU, London 
w/Archie Brozison Outfit 




Wt^ 



SADDLE CREEK'* 
EUROPE 



tW . £1]>1L&-CPSS£ . COM I EUI^OfSC^^ ADnL&-GBS£E . COU 




Semifinalists' debut album, Semifinalists is released 
on CD & Download - April 10th on Regal Bear. 

"They fuse the regulation jangle of C-86 with plinky-plonk electronics 
and boy girl harmonies in a heady mix reminiscent of a junior Animal 
Collective, The Postal Service's electro emo... to form a saccharine 
and rather frenzied psychedelic pop... " Time Out 



semifinalists.co.uk/ 



/.myspace.com/semifinalists 





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Words: Everett True ^ 

Live Photography: Lance Bangs 
Polaroid Photography: Nick Zinner 



y ve spent four years in the 'big rock world' and made a new album of feline menace and 
^eletal grooves. But are New York's Yeah Yeah Yeahs still motivated by mischief? 



This is what Karen O says: 

"You know how in the Forties, Hollywood 
was lawless and glamorous and all that 
stuff...! feel that rock'n'roll is like that for our 
f^ generation. Hollywood was the dream-making 
business - music is more than that. You've got 
the songs, the memories, the moments that. it 
creates. I'm 23 years old and I don't know very 
pnuch about anything but I do know about 
"auitarsand I know that our band reaches 

l_Q. The world is confused and bleak, but 
pmething as innocent as playing a show 

ive a lasting effect. Since I was a kid, I've 
v\/cihfed to express myself. Music is complete 
Jhstinct application and cheap thrills. It's the 
most^elaxed and easy way to get through 
to people: It doesn't take too much work to 
&'f'cfi)ifiplish, honestly. I mean, people write 

Mn two minutes." 
"Mbss Talk Costs Lives #9) 

- ^oguegoth 

"Jm drumming my fingers. Tired. Annoyed. 
The trip up to London has been a bust. I hid ■ 
, most the way. Parka hood pulled up round 
[ my head so no one could see my face, leather 
■gloves ensuring a lessening of actual bodily 
contact with the fetid city air. The hotel room 
was chilly. Everyone frazzled. Friendly, but 
frazzled. Band behaving like they're at school: 
bored with questions. No mystery. There was 
a beautiful view- Hyde Park budding into 

^ spring, all tree lines and open expanses and 
pathways - but not worth £11. Toy with 

[ knocking back vodka. Forget it. That's the past. 
Back to the present: damn tape barely came 
out. Guitarist Nick Zinner speaks unearthly 
low. Brian Chase mumbles. Karen O lapses into 
silence frequently. And right now, my son Isaac 
is crying. His future teeth are hurting: imagine 
that, having to wait for all the enamel and pus 
and bone to break through skin, not even 
knowing what pain is. Toasted oat-and-cheese 
bread litters the floor. I sip my cold tea, and 
checkthe email. Some stupid fucker's sent 
me a lOMBfile-someoneunfamiliartome, 
signature 'k o'. Jesus, I hate spam. 

Maybe I should flip the new Yeah Yeah 
Yeahsalbum on -watermark 81, Everett True, 
Show Your Bones, 12tracksof distortion and 
longing, stamina and cheated hearts. Maybe 
that will lift my world: feline, and metallic 
and NewWave, and dance-patterned 



simultaneously. Can't do. Can't hear the 
postman with music playing down here. 
Fuck. Wish this fucking file would open. 

Fri 18/03/06, 17:10 

Do you still have mischief? 

Karen: "Oh man." 

Nick: "Not enough, it sometimes feels." 

Not enough? When was the last time you 
had mischief? 

Brian: "I had mischief on the kitchen 
table. First, I hopped on it and then I don't 
remember the next few minutes, and then 
I got back down." 

What was the end result of your mischief? 

Brian: "Not much. There wasn't any real 
mess made. I guess I'm talking about it now 



my playing. Yeah, and I do it for myself, just as 
an act of expression." 

You can't let Brian say everything. 

ruby-bright lipstick 

Context. Show Your Bones is Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 
second album. They've been away. Four years. 
Regrouped, moved cities, changed friends. First 
album, the squealing, salacious Fe\/er Tore// 
sold over half-a-million. Karen O's been held 
as a fashion icon, a starlet, photographed next 
to Paris Hilton and The Strokes at music video 
awards. Rock critics have fawned themselves 
stupid. The Williamsburg art-loft scene that 
spawned them - and Liars, Strokes, Oneida 
- has long since dissipated, hyped beyond 
hope. There's been a full-lenqth tour DVD, 



'We've etched ourselves into history 
enough that we'll be remembered 
after we're gone' -Brian chase 



because that's the biggest amount of mischief 
I've had recently." 

What about you two? 

Karen: "Apparently not that much, because 
nothing's coming to mind." 

So what fuels your music if it isn't mischief? 

Karen: "Er..." 
■ Do you want to ask me questions? 

Nick: "What fuels your writing - mischief?" 

Sure. Why not. I want to fuck with 
perception. I want to entertain. I want to 
make people jealous. I want to make sense 
of my own life. Capture that Polaroid moment. 
Stave off the roaring silence. Throw tumblers 
of sawdust in the air and see where they land. 
Communicate. Dissipate. Act like Aerosmith 
on downers, my pen a strutting cock, my penis 
flaccid and useless. Act like a thousand Rose 
Reds, skipping through the forest with a basket 
load of shattered CDs, laughing in the face of 
reality- ochre and turquoise and a torso full 
of flame. Make disjointed patterns in the air. 
Why ask? Isn't that why everyone performs? 

Brian: "No. I see performing as very 
philanthropic. I'm there to give the people 
a great experience and that's what motivates 



Tell Me What Rockers To Si/i/a//oi/i/ directed 
by Spike Jonze collaborator Lance Bangs - an 
explosion of light and colour and silver leotards" 
. and solid-state drumming and black leather -^ 
gloves, and insanely pro-active fans. 

There's been a book of photographs, 
Nick's / Hope You Are All Happy Now, shot 
on the YYYs seemingly never-ending world 
tour-aboutwhichSleater-Kinney's Carrie 
Brownstein says, "[It] eloquently captures the 
fragmentary nature of travel by piecing it back 
together one photo at a time. A mosaic of the 
unkempt, the unmade, and the unhinged." 

There have been other projects: Karen O 
fronting some advert or other, filmed by (then) 
boyfriend Spike Jonze: Nick collaborating with 
any number of musicians, including The Blood 
Brothers, The Locust and Bright Eyes; Brian's 
other band, the demented and rhythm force- 
fed The Seconds (think of The B-52s sped up 
backwards, and try not to dance). 

"Sometimes I'll be halfway through 
a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song when I'll slip into 
a part of a Seconds song and start shouting, " 
he remarks, deadpan. I can't work out if he's 
having me on. Brian has also been playing with 



plan b 1 55 



P|k yeah yeah yeahs 



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'I like making music right now more 
than I've liked it in a long time' -Karen o 



a few Brooklyn musicians in Sugriwa, 
a "process-orientated, loud folk noise band". 
"At times," he explains, "Itfeels like a cross 
between The Seconds and improvised music." 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' past is no secret: they 
formed six years back when Karen Orzoiek 
met Nick Zinner in a New York bar. Their 
rapport that night was so instant she was 
reduced to tears. The pair put together 
a tormented acoustic two-piece, Unitard, 
before asking Brian to join, and switching to 
the jagged pop of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (clearly 
irnamed after Karen's way of enthusing). O had 
JSiready met jazz student Chase back when they 
both attended a posh art school in Ohio (she 
dropped out). Their first record, the self-titled 
five-track EP, released in 2001, is the one that 
had folk reeling - particularly the soulful, 
tearing post-9/1 1 lament of 'Our Time'. 

Within three seconds of hearing the meaty 
guitar on the start of 'Bang', the opening 
track, I was drooling ravenously, like George 
Bush faced with the remainder of the world. 
I guessed the singer to be female, but she sure 
as hell looked like my little brother's mole-fed 
androgynous (male) math teacher with her 
MASTER neck chain on the sleeve. I decided 
I should write about them: their music made 
me wantto dance and there is no higher 
accolade. So I did. Reams. 

Since then, there have been breakdowns, 
brawls, jollity, forced isolation - everyone 
knows that Yeah Yeah Yeahs are synonymous 
with mischief, with intemperance, with MTV- 
friendly New Wave music that has its roots 

56 1 plan b 



equallyasfirmly in the fluid funkofESG and 
soft rock of Warrant. 

See? You're more clued in than you thought 
you were. 

Fri 18/03/06, 17:15 

Karen: "I like making music right now more" 
than I've liked making music in a long time." 

So you didn't like it to start off with? 

Karen: "I did like it, but I was much less 
aware of it than I am now. I was much less 
experienced. These times I'm more focused." 

Was it mischief for you when you started? 

Karen: "Yeah, definitely a lot of it was 
seeing how much we could get away with 
- but not when I started-started. When 
I started-started, it was love songs and stuff. 
With Yeah Yeahs Yeahs it was more cathartic." 

Is it no longer catharsic? 

Karen: "It is. It's just a different form." 

How about you, Nick? 

Nick: "I never wanted to make people 
jealous. I feel like I've always been playing 
music so it'sjust like it's natural. ..sleeping... 
normal...levels of satisfaction...! really enjoy 
playing...a year ago... guitars..." 

The guitarist sighs. 

"It's not like any of this will pick up on your 
tape recorder, anyway." 

Karen: "This is the longest thing at this level 
of intensity that I've ever committed to, longer 
than any love relationships." 

Are you surprised at your attention span? 

Karen: "Yeah, yeah." 

Brian: "Yeah." 



Chunky boots jJJM ^« *^/ 

Here's what rockJjjtMHtuld be about. 

Excitement.*^RftjJ^BPming home at five 
in the afternoon and cursing the day someop^ 
invented email, the number of times you've! 
' had sleep-deprived arguments in the middle 
of the night. Feeling like you canTnestle up 
to society. Feeling like you can wrap a scarf 
around the world. Flirting. Glamour. Little 
fluffy ducks, their fur all glistening and sodden 
in the dew light. Stamina. Not being able to 
trust anyone for fear they might suddenly 
wake up one morning and find you boring. 
Snogging. Live music. 

My latest encounter with cross-USA band 
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - as encapsulated across 
four minute explosions of carefully tempered 
noise - ran something like this. Hey, how you 
doing. Hey, howyotv doing. Silence. Giggles. 
How's the kid? How's LA? Silence. 

The previous time I was supposed to 
interview the band for Plan B, first I didn't 
show up, then Karen O didn't. Fair enough. 
The journalist talked about 'fingering' (not the 
guitar picking kind) and painting eggs. I stayed 
at home, and told everyone how crap and 
disinterested and full of the opposite of fun 
London is - and that went for interviewing 
bands triple, despite the fact I number these 
people among my friends. A time before, an 
American journalist spent 20 per cent of his 
article talking about how drunken Karen O and 
I were. A time before, her and her gal pals were 
tearing up a Williamsburg bar. Time and again, 
people were dragged out along the floor by 



yeah yeah yeahs 







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'There were many times when things 

turned daric' -Brian chase 



their hair; someone tried to set light to a table; 
someone pelted me with ice as I sat next to 
Karen discussing boy troubles; someone 
ended up with a right shiner, and rightly so. 

Still. Isn'thalf of popular music simply 
a desire to join the coolest gang? 

"We asked [Electrelane guitarist and 
P/an B writer] Mia Clarke if she wanted to play 
keyboards with us on tour," Karen O says. "She 
turned us down because she said it would be 
too stressful." 

Fri 18/03/06, 17:15 

I'm meeting Ronnie Spector next week. What 
should I ask her? 

Nick: "Whoa. Really? I only met her briefly. 
Ask her how she can still sing so well when she 
constantly smokes Marlboro Red." 

That track you play on her album sounds like 
The Detroit Cobras. That's a compliment. 

Nick: "That was just a case of being told, 
here's a part, can you play it like this? Normally, 
I wouldn't do that sort of thing, but it was 
Ronnie Spectorl So what's it like being a dad?" 

Exhausting. Fun. You forget everything 
when you see him^ looking at you with his big 
baby eyes. He's not allowed to drum, being 
male - no disrespect, Brian. 

Brian: "None taken." 

Bad drummers can ruin groups far more 
than any other instrument. They are why I hate 
so much of rock music. 

Nick: "What about bad singers?" 

Bad singers can be funny - and they're more 
obvious. Bad drummers ruin music by stealth. 



'london sucks' 

Five minutes pass. Ten. Man, how large is 
this attachment? How slow is my Broadband 
connection? If this were America, I'd be sipping 
a soy latte by now. Does anyone even care 
about Yeah Yeah Yeahs anymore? Is their 
second album any good? You think I would 
be here if it wasn't? Its sense of timing, its strict 
rhythmic splendour alone makes it a worthy 
companion piece to The Concretes and the 
Sonic Youth reissues. What is up with this 
email? Wait, here it comes. Get ready with 
the 'delete' button. Wait. Whft is this? There^ 
are two emails: 

Hey Everett good seeing you again. I hope 
the physical experience of sitting with us in 
a hotel room was worth a train ride into tj 
but somehow I doubt that. I hope you cai 
salvage some of the tape because otherwise 
I'll have to explain the cloud versus infinite 
onion thing again. 

Motivation (initial): fuzzy cloud, to have 
so much fun that it's contagious, trap a snake 
and use its venom to produce anti-venom that 
cures the New York City audience of paralysis 
and boredom. To get out all the residual 
teenage desperation. 

IVIotivation (now): infinite onion, the 
onion is commitment and calls for chipping 
a way at a many layered thing. Music is more 
fun to make then ever forme but still this 
album was not fun to make. Commitment is 
hard work that I believe pays off in the end. 

The live experience: I've been told it no 
longer controls me but rather I control it. I think 



this is mostly true but I still can't remember 
the shows after leaving th^ stage. 

Collaborations: I like collaborating with , 
likable people and friends, there^ will be manyf 
of these in the future but nothing worth 
mentioning at this point in time. I 

Hope to see you at ATP, always a pleasure. 

xo, KO 

I checkthe other email. It's a liome video: 
bunch of dudes dressed as Guns N' Roses, J 
milling in someone's kitchen, with Karen 
O, dressed in skull T-shirt and cropped hair, ^ 
spitting baby carrots into a drunk boy's 
mouth. She misses. Are those fake tattoos on 
her arms? Laughter. "Get it between his legs," 
the cameraman shouts. She tries again and 



succeeds. Urgh! That's gross. 

"Last Halloween was pretty mischievous," 
Karen tells me. "I was newly single, liberated. 
I had a big bleeding sore in my mouth, so that 
boy was covered in my bloody, oozing sore." 

"What was your costume?" asks Brian. 

"It was a giant hamster," she smiles. 

Fri 18/03/06, 17:25 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs have done a load of touring. 
How do you cope with it? 

Karen: "I don't know. It's a good job Nick 
takes all his pictures otherwise it would be 
a big blur." 

What are you trying to achieve on stage? 

Karen: "It's definitely like a movie -the way 
we plot out the set-list, we want it to have a I ife 
of its own and a mood of its own. We want to 
give it options, and highs and lows." 



plan b 1 57 



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wifHIL 



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yeah yeah yeahs 



How does Karen move on stage these days? 

Brian: "Sometimes she'll hit a really strong 
stance, like she can't be moved no matter 
what happens. All the rest of us will be gone 
but she'll still be standing there, holding the 
mic - and other times it's completely loose, 
like she has no bones in her body." 

Nick: "It's like an upward. ..[moves arms]..." 

Do you care about expectations? 

Karen: "Well, it's not a priority. The priority 
was to get the record done and be happy 
with it." 

Tell me about what you were eating in the 
studio while you were making the album. 

Brian: "Thai food." 

Karen: " Isn't that the answer that every 
band gives -Thai food? I feel like it is." 

It used to be pizza. What would you drink? 

Brian: "Water." 

Nick: "I cracked open the odd beer. I was 
drinking a lot of Red Bull for a while. We got 
cases of it." 

Karen: "You were obsessed with that shit." 

And how would you occupy your time when 
lyou weren't recording? 
^ Brian: "I'd watch The Sopranos. I went 
^. through most of the seasons." 

Nick: "S/x Feet C/nder is really good as well." 

Karen: "I'm more a Curb Your Enthusiasm 
'person. That became a bit of an obsession 
with me." 

Mon 2003/06, 11:44 

Phone rings. God, j hate people who use the 
phone, especially when I'm trying to write. 
Have they no sense of decorum? Oh wait, it's 
Pam from Hermana PR -she's lovely. "Brian 
just got your email about the interview not 
coming out," she says. "Would it be OK if 
he starts filling his answers in now?" Yes, yes. 
* Perfect. In the background, on my cheapo Tesco 
. tjportable CD player, Karen O wails a foreign 
language, guitar trails crimson and purple, 
fading into the merest trace of piano, drums 
an explosion of one-two fury, guitar cutting 
trebly patterns through the air, Karen now 
screaming and serenading and stripping the 
feelings back to... nowhere. 

To my left sits the new CD single 'Gold Lion' 
- a traced figure of a roaring lion with tail 
flapping on its cover, inside are four tracks 
including a demo and a Dipio remix, and the 
video: all tribal solicitude and Wicker Man 
circles of flame, and Nick's face smudged 
and looking little boy wild, Wke Lord Of The 
Flies, and Brian more cojnmanding than I ever 
dreamt, and Karen O so mischievous she's even 
forgotten how not to look possessed, centre- 
stage and taut. 

Come on. Give me the answers. Give me the 
answers. I won't grade you. There's no exam 
to be passed. 

Catharsis: not aware of it until after 
[writes Brian]. Breaking through layers of 
fear, anxiety, awkwardness, sadness, shame, 
whatever. Glimpses of what it would be like to 
be unburdened, at peace. Realise how most of 
the time I tend to be complacent and it's easier 
to bottle things up. I learned pretty quickly that 
it's foolish to try to express emotions. If there's 
the willingness to make an attempt to be 
honest with yourself then emotional expression 
will often be a by-product. That's more along 
the lines of what YYYs has meant to me. 

Motivation (initial): I started playing 
music when I was about five - my paternal 
grandfather was a musician and his father 
was an artist so I feel like I've had the life of 
a musician since before I was born. All of my 
most memorable pleasurable experiences have 



happened as a result of being involved witn 
music. It's connected me with friends and 
community(importantto note) but also 
broadened my range and brought me to 
people and places outside of what my normal 
world would have been. I play for me but '- 
everybody else motivates me. 

iViotivation (new): after having done it 
now and become established there's the chance 
to make a lasting contribution. We've etched 
ourselves into history enough that we'll be 
remembered after we're gone. Touring and 
working in the big rock world is surreal and 
bizarre and fake and threatening. I play for 
me but everybody else motivates me. 

London: the nightlife/club/rock scene is not 
my cup of tea. There's lots of dressing up and 



Karen: "For me, it has a little bit more to do 
with moving to LA, and what happened." 

What did happen? 

Karen: "Just isolation, and growth. Onion 
versus cloud." 

Pardon? 

Karen: "Onion versus cloud. Yeah. The 
cloud is New York when I feel like shit. I'm 
trying to figure things out in my life but there 
was this big cloud making me unableto do 
that. Then in LA I didn't have any distractions 
anymore. I didn't have any social lifeorthat 
many friends or people I trusted there - so it 
seemed like it wasn't the cloud any more, but 
this infinite onion that had infinite layers where 
at least I could see who I was and start peeling 
back the layers." 



Is this new record a progression? 
Karen: 'it's tlie biggest step baclc...' 



attitudes and styles driven by media trends. 
Places in New York are starting to feel the same 
way. (The indie world is starting to take on 
a clique-ishmentalitythatvalues hatred for 
things it doesn't understand or doesn't share 
its outlook. I see this in things from DJ nights in 
bars to blogs on the web.) Yesterday I watched 
old ladies and children feed the ducks and 
swans in Hyde Park. 

Recording the album: the process of 
recording the album revolved around the idea 
of newness. There wasn't the time to test out 
our ideas or let them develop outside of the 
studio. It was, find your part, get comfortable 
with it, and nail it. It was a joy to discover the 
perfect parts that complimented everything 
else so well. Getting there was a different 
experience for each of us but overall as 
a band we'll tell you it was torture. Stress 
and pressure, mostly self-imposed, was the 
biggest obstacle. There were many times 
when things turned dark. ^, 

The live experience: mirror balls. Lots 
of mirror balls. Our lighting person, whose 
regular gig is working lights forthe San 
Francisco ballet, places loads of mirror balls * 
alloverthestage. Light bounces off of them 
into every direction. 

Collaborations: YYYs is just one way of 
making music. I work on other projects because 
YYYs doesn't satisfy every aspect of my musical 
life. The Seconds is focused, repetitive, post 
minimal punk rock; the improvised music 
I do can go in any direction depending on 
the other players, often times going into 
explorations of the physical properties of 
sound and putting the emphasis on the 
way music is constructed rather than the 
construction itself, or sometimes just soulful. 

Fri 18/03/06, 17:33 

What informed your first record? 

Karen: "Dm. New York City a lot and the 
social scene we were hooked into at the time." 

You'retalkingaboutthe loft party scene? 

Karen laughs. 

Nick: "That was great. That was in my loft." 

Do you think there was a desperate edge 
to that record - the way that if you party non- 
stop, you have to come down sometime? 

Nick: "The second half of the record is all 
about that." 

So what informs this new record? 



The new record, I assume you see it as 
a progression... 

Karen: " It's the biggest step back. . . 
A progression? A regression? A depression?" 

How do you think this record is different 
from the last? 

Brian: "Most of the songs are longer- not 
that much longer, though." 

Karen: "Maybe 30-45 seconds longer." 

Brian: "A lot of the songs have more parts 
than our older songs." 

Are you saying you're more sophisticated? 

Brian: "There's less of an urgency." 

Less? Do you feel less urgent? I don't want 
to scare you, but life starts to speed up after 
a certain point. My book is 1 5 months late. It 
doesn't feel like 15 months. 



Hey Karen. Its always worth a train ride up to 
'town' to see yoti guys for even a few minutes. . . 
ihd for the view. At what frequency does Nick 
%eak anyway? Its like with dogs and whistles, 
some speech is just toojiow for the human ear 
to comprehend. The onion, the chud, the 
mischief. . . these were the only three words 
I understood from the entire tape. I tried 
listening to it with all the controls, bar the far 
left slider, down to zero, but that just made my 
head hurt. I tried blaring it out mega volume 
from under the Ultra-man karaoke player, but 
that made the vacuum cleaner whooshing in 
the background even harsher. I tried speakers. 
I tried coffee. I tried Australian punk rock. Nope. 
None worked. None. It quite took me back. 



Fri 18/03/06, 17:51 

Do you find yourselves hanging out in different 
circles now? 

Nick: "I moved to Manhattan." 

Karen: "I only hang out with this one family 
in Los Angeles." 

You always did strike me as a social retard. 

Karen: "I am, seriously." 

You just struck me as really good at bluffing, 
for a really longtime. 

Karen: "Yeah, I was." 

addenda 

Nick also replied to my email: "You can make 
things up for me, or steal from the blog I did 
for 7ar/e a few weeks ago, janemag.com." 



plan b 1 59 




Round Two 



Words: Joe Stannard 

Illustration: Nick White 



The Seconds get right to the point 



The Seconds are a three-piece band from 
Brooklyn. The members of the group are Brian 
Chase of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Zachary Max from 
Ex-Models and a grad school student named 
Jeannie Kwon. 

Their music is intentionally infantile, stressed- 
out and repetitive. It sounds a bit like a retarded 
Liars (not an insult as such) and I like it very much 
indeed. In interview, The Seconds answer questions 
collectively, in a manner I would describe as 
'perfunctory yet amusing'. 

/ ask the first question in an attempt to put the 
interviewee at ease. How are you right now? 



'Intifada meets 
a bag of kittens' 



The use of humour in their answer denotes 
either that the interviewee is already at ease or 
striving to conceal a deep discomfort. Unless 
it isn't actually humour. "Terrible... thanks 
for asking." 

I sometimes find it interesting to engage 
with an interviewee's potentially negative emotions, 
hence the second question. Anything pissing 
you off? 

Their answer may be true or a complete 
fabrication. Either way, it is funny in a slightly 
juvenile fashion. "An itch in my pants." 

/ find it equally fascinating to know what 
causes the opposite reaction. Anything making 
you especially happy? 

60 1 plan b 



The answer continues the slightly facetious 
tone of the previous one. It is also vaguely sexually 
arousing. "My boyfriend's penis." 

The Seconds' second album is entitled 
Kratitude (out on 5 Rue Christine). The album's 
vocal approach is largely based around the 
exploration of verba I sounds emptied of concept 
and meaning. Do you ever get frustrated with 
the limitations of language? 

The answer is a compromised attempt at 
glossolalia. "Hymen lucks a conned evill." 

See above. What do you consider the most 
satisfying vocal utterance? 

This answer, like the response to question 
number three inspires sexual thoughts and can 
th erefore be classified as porn og rap hie. " Th e I o n g 
gush of wind that comes from my arse (bilabial 
fricative sibilants)." 

Kratitude makes me feel as though I'm being 
repeatedly lulled into a three second trance only 
to be slapped awake every time. Do you feel your 
music encourages wakefulness and clarity or 
reversion to a trance state? 

The answer is a matter-of-fact shrug. " Depends 
on what you're sniffing. " 

/ don 't know what I was thinking with the 
next question. Do you consider The Seconds to 
be a political band in anyway? 

The answer exceeded my low expectations and 
provides a delightful mental image. "Intifada meets 
a bag of kittens." 

I've been curious about this for a while. What 
is it about Brooklyn bands and wilful primitivism? 

The answer makes a certain amount of sense, 
I suppose. "Abject poverty." 



/ require some interesting conceptual 
information to improve the quality of my life. 
Tell me about the 1 0-year-old from Brighton, 
Will Dubieniec, who came up with the idea for 
thetitle and cover... 

The Seconds are willing to steal from children. 
"We never met him and don't know much about 
him. His mother showed us his sketchbook one 
night and it left a lasting impression. " 

This is almost as bad as the politics question. 
What can children teach us about art? 

Great, snappy answer, though. "How to draw 
badly outside the lines." 

lam considering having children in the near-ish 
future. Other people's attitudes (or Kratitudes, 
ha ha) towards this interest me. Are any of you 
parents? If so, does that affect your music? If not, 
any plans? 

They avoid answering the question. A touchy 
subject, perhaps. "No kiddies yet. But could use 
more help in the meth lab." 

Twenty years or so ago, some people in the 
Ukraine were illegally making and distributing 
music that sounds rather like The Seconds' filthy 
clang. You can hear it on a compilation entitled 
Novaya Scene -Underground From Ukraine! 
which you can download from the wonderful 
IVF/V/L/jb/og at http://blog.wfmu.org. Are you 
familiar with the Ukrainian post punk underground 
of the mid-Eighties to early-Nineties? Your music 
is somewhat reminiscent of some of the music 
that was coming out of Kiev and Kharkov around 
that time... 

The answer is really quite sweet. " No. Please 
send a Plan 5 mix and I'll put it on my ITunes. " 




dub, digi dub and q iibstep 

I 

THURSDAY 27th APRIL 

RHYTHM & SOUND 45'*session 

ft. TIKI MAN (basic channel) 
DUB CARTEL SOUND SYSTEM 

(don letts & dan donovan) 

DUBLIME SQUNDSYSTEM 
B2B SET 

D J DISTANCE PAUL ROSE 

(jplanet mu/ rotten funic) (hotflush/ rinse fm) 



BAZRAH 

(hyponik/ dubtek) 



DOWNSHIFTER 

(hyponik/ tyke) 



neighbDurhood, 12 Acklam Road, Ladbrolie Grgve, WlO HJV 

8pm - 2»nU/i&, £7 Aft«r 10|>m 

inMJhypQDilMSOm ' 0797$ 409 8(1$ 





'Sunny Moon' 

ut solo album 

he Vaselines 

Frances McKee 

if great power 

c imagination" 

nday Times 



eleased ^i^pril 2006 on 
Analocuie Catalogue 



"A songw 
and 




furth 
www. 




ur dates and^ 
mation see 
uecat.com 




\/ords: Miss AMP 
hotography: Frans Hallqvist' 





Sweden. It's sexy, snowy 
sophisticated, feminist and 
home to The Concretes. 

What more could you want? 



Sometimes you just want everything to be lovely. 
No more discord. No more ennui. No more edge 
(neither lost, nor bleeding). No more grit/grime/ 
sleaze/discombobulation, Sometimes you just 
want gorgeous. You know. Sliding down a hill on 
borrowed skis. Blueberries scattered on a cocktail. 
Hand-knit mittens on a frosty morning. Laying your 
cheek against a reindeer-skin rug. You know. Silky. 
Beautiful. What can I say? Sometimes you just 
want some of that SWEDISH POP. And so, ladies 
and gents, I give you The Concretes. 

1 995. There are three girls. Lisa Milberg. 
Maria Eriksson. Victoria Bergsman. They want to 
form a band, so they do. They call themselves The 
Concretes because they're urbanites - all from 
inner-city Stockholm - and into greyness, brutalism, 
modernism, all of that. Musically? No brutalism 
here: it's all about a shared love for that honeyed 
girl group perfect pop. Someone's got to play 
drums, so Lisa hops up on the stool, silky-white hair 
in face, forearms quivering. Maria, Frida Khalo-cool, 
stands strutting and confident with the guitar. 
Victoria, elfin, nervy, hides behind a wig, chews 
her fingers, sings eyes-sideways, all aloof. 

Like a katamari. The Concretes race forwards 
through the second half of the Nineties, picking 



things up along the way. Daniel Varjo, with his 
perma-smile and louche suits. Per Nystrom, all 
vintage synths, white shoes and Mike Flowers 
charm. Ludvig Rylander, charmingly Scandi-blonde. 
Martin Hansson, bass, all crumpled suit and prickly 
beard and pale blue eyes. Ulrik Karlsson, pointy- 
haired and loquacious. And stuck in the katamari 
next to the eight members are the multitude of 
instruments they use to make their music: flutes, 
tubas, trombones, harmoniums, vibraphones, 
accordions, violins, French horns, marimbas, bells. . . 

...and harmonies, of course. Swedish pop 
wouldn't be Swedish pop without the harmonies. 
And it wouldn't be Swedish pop without the voice, 
that peculiarly particular Swedish girl-voice so 
familiar from years of ABBA, Roxette, Ace Of Base, 
The Cardigans: crooning, thin but beautiful, with 
flat vowels and a particular quality to the 'S' sounds. 
There's a thickness to the 'S', a twist of the tongue, 
a phonetic quirk redolent of earmuffs, the sound 
your legs make as you swish around in ski-pants, 
bread sliding through melted Emmental and sherry 
dripping and oozing and mmm... Sea ndinaviaah. 

Scandinavia. But... why? Swedish pop has 
been a British fixation for as long as most Plan B 
readers can remember. What gives? 

"I don't know if you're asking the right people," 
says Maria. But you're a Swedish pop band with girl 
singers signed to EMI more popular in the UK. 

"Our influences are American music: Motown, 
girl groups. . .1 don't consider our sound to be 
typically Swedish in any way. " 

Sure. But she says this lovely, all clipped, all 
Swedish, and if this was a cartoon the air around us 
would be dotted with those cute little umlauts and 



circles and stuff they have all over their language, 
like black confetti. What I'm trying to say is - 

Maria continues. "I did hear, though - and this 
was shocking for us - that we have this, this, this 
ACCENT that symbolises sexiness! Apparently, the 
British people think the Swedish accent is sexy! " 

I breathe out, pleased I don't have to say it. 

" I think Swedish bands think they've mastered 
the language," says Ludwig. "We grew up with 
English television, and we speak the language well, 
so we become confident that our singing is totally 
accent-less. But I have understood it's not so. " 

" I do think the attraction is the accent. . . 
exoticism," ponders Maria. "And apparently, 
that fixation comes from porn - that's horrible ! 

"It's interesting though," she continues, looking 
peeved, "because Sweden is considered to be one 
of the only countries in the world that's a feminist 
country. It's written into the constitution to have 
feminist values, equal rights: girls are taught from 
a young age that they're free - and then you realise 
that, because of your accent, you're considered to 
be ultra-sexy. That voice probably appeals to male 
English journalists, so what can you do? 

"Wejustwanttobein a band and play music we 
like," she says. "But it's not always like that. When 
I first played in a band, at school, all the other bands 
were introduced by their name. Simple. But when 
it came to us, he said, 'And now we have a girl 
bandl ' And he just went on about it, saying, can you 
imagine...girls playing guitar! We still get that. Like 
people cannot believe Lisa plays the drums. They 
assume she sings, or she's someone's girlfriend." 

Lisa nods. "When I first started to drum I just did 
it because, well, someone had to be the drummer! 




I think I knew girls didn't drum that much either, 
and I like to be special. Sometimes sound engineers 
are surprised I have strength to whack the drums 
really hard -they're like, ooh, that was loud! " 

There was this bulletin going round on MySpace 
the other day, I say. It was all called Top 1 00 Female 
Drummers. It was on about 37 by the time I came 
across it. Are you proud to be part of that lineage? 

"Depends if I was on it or not! Yeah, I am proud, 
and when I first started, I was very into being part of 
that, like, I really liked Moe Tucker. But I see loads 
more female drummers now, and I don't think it 
looks as strange as it once did." 

The Concretes are a democracy. They may have 
started out as a girl band, but they were auditioning 
for new members within a year, and through artistic 
communities and friends of friends, built up to the 
octet they are now. Every member of the band 
gets to vote on whether or not to put a particular 
track on an album, or play a live show. It must be 
refreshing to work like that, I say. Every band I've 
ever been in, or been friends with, whether mixed or 
single-sex, has had a clearly defined leader - even if 
that's never been explicitly stated. 

"We're really just a group of people who like 
each other," says Maria. "A bunch of people with 
the same ground values." 

"In some bands," says Ludwig, "the mood can 
be quite rough, but with us guys -we're different. 
We take care of each other. That was new for me. 
Like if someone's down, you should step away, 
or help them... whatever's bestforthem. I haven't 
experienced that in other bands. This does feel 
a bit like a family." 



'I did hear - and this was shoclcing for 
us - that we have this, this ACCENT 
that symbolises sexiness' -Maria 



Were you consciously trying to move towards 
a different, less hierarchical way of working? Do 
you think this has anything to do with the way you 
formed - broadening out from a central core of 
three females and into a democracy? 

"It's possible it's had an effect," agrees Maria. 
"As a woman you have to learn how to make peace, 
how to make a lot of different things work together, 
like having children, working. I'm not saying this in 
an essentialistway-this is not inherent in me simply 
because I have breasts - it's just something women 
learn. Atthe same time, the men I meet-older 
people I grew up with - the man was always the one 
arguing and making the fuss, being very emotional, 
and his emotions were always the thing everyone 
had to work around. But the guys in The Concretes 
are not like that. Things are changing, and maybe 
that's because men are changing - and that's how 
the band can operate as a democracy." 

As I chat to the band members, little stories arise. 
Themes develop. The album is called In Colour 
and features nine colours on the front, replacing 
the monochrome and red palette of the previous 
album. Mike Mogis' (Bright Eyes) production 
techniques have added a warmth to The Concretes' 



sound - it's more textured, more natural. Martin 
expresses a hope that the album, "will turn this 
fucking endless winter into spring". Daniel says 
that one of the reasons he makes music is things like 
the email he recently received, in which a severely 
malnourished, anorexic girl told him the discovery 
of The Concretes' music had saved her life. 

And Ulrick explains how he came to play wind 
instruments -there was an old hunting horn that 
had been in his family for generations, but nobody 
could ever make a noise from it, so his family 
assumed it was broken. But one day, playing with 
it, he blew down it and a note came out, and as 
a consequence, the boy became a family legend. 

There's a positivity, a beauty to The Concretes 
and their music: that a song can play on the radio 
but still be written for one person's ears only ('On 
The Radio'); that a 'chosen one' is out there and 
just needs to be notified that the singer is here, 
ready for love ('Chosen One'); that one day girl 
drummers won't be worthy of note; and, more 
fancifully, that their music can induce springtime, 
save lives, and make silent instruments sing. It's 
a magical package wrapped up in a silvery Scandi- 
bow made of accents and umlauts! You'd need 
a heart of ice to refuse such a gift. 



plan b 1 63 



L-R: Katie Sketch, Debora Cohen 



W 




PI 


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^K ' \^^l 








' • \ 1 



\^!, 



31 



TAL SIGNS 



Words: Hannah Gregory 
'hotoqraphv: Steve Double 



Canadian quintet The Organ charm and chill with icy pop melodies 



The Organ in America, an Historical Sketch; 
the United Network for Organ Sharing and 
donation; Stalin's organ, the Katyusha rocket 
launcher; The pipe organ, an illustrated 
description. 

This is what Google threw up when I was 
searching out The Organ: vital anatomy and 
instruments of faith. I tell them so - Katie 
Sketch (naturally pitched vocals) and Debora 
Cohen (clean, tight guitar lines) - in a bid for 
a cheerful conversation opener. The pair, 
two-fifths of the Vancouver band, have just 
been woken up from a jet-lagged nap to do 
this interview. And understandably, they're 
tired and bored. Bored of constantly being 
on the move, trailing from one city to the 
next to play show upon show, crossing miles 
and miles of land and yet never having the 
breathing space to properly experience a place. 

"I thinktravelling skews your perspective 
of time a little," says Katie. "Being in seven 
different cities in seven days, having completely 
different experiences, meeting and drinking 
with new people, then becoming friends - if 
you think it was only seven days ago it seems. . . 
seven months ago." 

She tugs and twists at her short straggly hair 
as she talks; in thought or in frustration, I'm not 
sure which. She's cool, if not collected; hard and 
realistic, but her smile spells warmth. If she were 
angry, she'd be very angry, and I'd be scared. 

Debora is more smiley, more girlish and 
giggly. At first I'd mistakenly placed her as the 
frontwoman, thinking that big, dark hair and 
eyes equal spotlighted stage charisma. But 
attitude is what counts here. 

What brings you together as a band? 

Katie: "We are very different people. 
But then, when we're walking down the street 
together we all look the same! It's amazing 
how that happens; you slowly start dressing 
alike and speaking the same way. Suddenly 
we're like some gang, some girly gang walking 
down the street with attitude problems." 

Having gone through auditions for band 
members without joy, Katie decided to find 
people-friends offriends, mainly- who had 
not necessarily played their instrument before 
but who were eager to learn how. 

"I feel like our music is based around 
the fact that, at first, we had to try to make 
something interesting out of nothing," she says 
"As in, how can we make the only five notes 
that you can play into an interesting song?" 

So Debora, Ashley Webber and Shelby 
Stocks (on guitar, bass and drums) joined Katie 
and organ player Jenny Smyth to complete 
the band's gang and record their first EP, 
'Sinking Hearts' (released in the UK on Sink 
And Stove). Between this EP and Grab That 



Gun, the polished ice-pop melodies and glassy 
new wave vocals of which have recently been 
released outside Canada on Too Pure, another 
album was recorded. However, the band were 
unsatisfied with the overproduced results 
of this, and so it remains unreleased. 

How do you feel about being grouped with 
the whole post-punk revival scene? 

Katie: "We don't really think about it. 
Everyone thinks we'll have some big opinion 
about that, but we couldn't care less." 

Debora: "We just do what we do." 

A definite mood suffuses the whole of Grab 
That Gun. Its colours and tones are muted. 
At first it seems aloof, glacial... Then the ice 



would be more attractive. David Gedge was 
standing beside me, so I asked, 'Does it bother 
you if David Gedge doesn't smile?' and he was 
like, 'Yeah', so I said, 'Go tell him that, then!' 
At that, he just bolted off," she laughs. 

Debora: "There are always a few mean 
people out there. In Canada we played a show 
where a guy wasn't enjoying himself, so he 
yanked on Katie's mic cord to try to unplug 
it, then he started spraying beer all over us." 

Katie: "But we were playing in some dive 
of a bar, in the middle of nowhere..." 

I guess as a frontwoman, or any female 
member of a band, there's pressure to conform 
to a polished, visually appealing aesthetic. 



'We're like some girly gang with 
attitude problems' -Katie sketch 



melts, a face cracking into a smile. You see 
it's not devoid of emotion, but a measured 
presentation of it; a crystallisation of those 
extreme thoughts that you might not dare 
admit in a shouting, screaming sort of way, that 
you'd like to pin down non-impulsively and 
understand. The quietness in your head you'd 
liketobreakwith something: some music, 
somesinging, the piping of an organ... 

"The organ was always going to be a 
central part ofthe band," says Katie. "It was 
just me and Jenny in the beginning, and she 
was the organ player, so it was the only thing 
we definitely knew we had." 

If the organ is the centrepiece, it's a modest 
one. It sings an understated harmony, this 
instrument of gospel hymns and jazz players, 
resounding in and out of earshot, serene and 
simple. It recalls the Shop Assistants' slow 
songs, a mellow Throwing Muses, 'Sunday 
Girl'-era Blondie. 

Katie says that Sleater-Kinney were the first 
band to show her the force music could have. 

In general, do you get a positive reaction for 
being an all-girl group? 

"No, it's pretty mixed," she replies. "Often, 
we have a guy come up and say something that 
is definitely misogynistic. It happens regularly, 
to the point that it doesn't faze us any more. 
Obviously, we also get males and females who 
saythey love the fact we're an all-girl band. 
I know a lot of younger girls find it inspiring, 
and they tell us and so that's really good. 

"Theguysarereallybig into telling us to 
smile on stage, and to jump around and stuff. 
I mean, they would never even dream saying 
that to an all-guy band. Actually, there was this 
time when we were opening for The Wedding 
Present that somebody said, 'I thinkyou should 
smile'. I asked why, and he said because it 



Katie: "Oh yeah. They just want us to be 
these sexy girls on stage doing it for them. 
I imagine the majority of female bands get it. 
But that's certainly not what we're about. The 
interesting thing is that I've spoken to a lot of 
girls in bands who are the only female in the 
band, andtheysaythey never get it." 

That's like the classic format though, isn't it 
-that if there is a girl in a band, she's going to 
be the singer and she's going to be at the front 
looking pretty? 

"Yeah. It's also probably harder to criticise 
a girl when there's a bunch of guys standing 
round her." 

Like a pack. 

"I saw this thing in NME a few months ago 
that was like' the 50 most influential bands 
ever', or something, and there were like three 
women in the entire thing! They had omitted 
so many obviously influential women, and 
put in so many hyped brand-new bands that 
hadn't had a chanceto influence anything! It's 
just unbelievable." 

Or else it goes to the other extreme, where 
it's a novelty for a band to be female -oh, look 
atthese girls, they can play guitars! 

"Yeah, like they have a 'women month', 
or something." 

Would you like to be on the NME's cover? 

Debora: "Sure, why not?" 

Katie: "That's not something we've ever 
really spoken about. I mean, coverage is 
coverage. Although, we would never do 
something where we had to pose revealingly 
or that we felt uncomfortable with. That 
wouldn't happen." 

Debora: "Yeah, noway!" 

I think it would beawesomeif you were 
on the cover of the NME. 

Both: "Mmm-hmm!" 

plan b 1 65 



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8unn KBP 

Words: Melissa Bradshaw 
Photography: Cat Stevens 

There's more to Spank Rock's neon rap than 25 video girl butts. 



Hey Mel 

I found this online, i think it's really disgusting. 
Maybe you could use it for a piece on ass-misogyny? 
httpif/www.spankrock. net/ movies/ Backyard, mov 

On a dull Monday, this email arrives, leading me 
to a video screen measuring 4.7 x 6.7 cm and 
displaying the butt of a lady in a baby-pink G-string 
and stockings, which grip and squeeze her upper 
thighs so much the flesh bursts over the sides. 
Tinny, jittery street-bass beats and a ridiculous 
melody to be rivaled only by old Atari game 
soundtracks spur her on as she squats, in heels, 
and wiggles that butt. Her coffee-coloured flesh 
and pink arms quickly change hue, from neon 
green, to shocking purple, to electric blue, to flashy 
yellow: bizarre circles appear from the centre of 
her bum, expand to fill the screen, and disappear. 

Then her ass splits and reduplicates so there 
are four- no, nine! -no, 25 asses! It's an almighty 
assfest. And the whole time a voice, sounding like 
a fried version of KC Flightt, or Butterfly from 
Digable Planets (to use the most inappropriate 
reference) chants, "Ass-shaking competition 
champ/Ooh that pussy gets damp". 

Leaving aside the question of what exactly 
would constitute 'ass-misogyny' (misogyny 
directed exclusively towards asses? misogyny 
revealed through the study of asses in a variety 
of contexts?), let alone a piece on it (analysis of 
presentation of asses in different formal 
arrangements, including studies of distribution 
and audience - fuck, that would take years; a PhD, 
not a piece), I'll tell you how I felt. Kind of amused, 
actually. Various other thoughts skimmed and fled 
- is that the Backyard Betty? Or is she just a type? 
And does this video butt girl have a face? Do you 
think she minds not having a face? 

"How long is this gonna be?" asksNaeem Juwan, 
aka MC Spank Rock, the face belonging to the voice 
on the video. He's a similar golden coffee-colour 
to the lady in the video -a bit darker -with an 
expression of possible boredom mingled with 
a vague, potential curiosity. Wearing a black hood, 
slouching slightly, curled up in his seat, with a huge, 
enormous, gigantic pair of geek specs. Not the sort 
of trendy rectangular ones made by designers and 
worn by Part 2, but massive and round, Flava Flav 
style, or like that barman dude in Plastic People. 
Except they're wonky like they been broken. 
Must be a statement. "I'm not trying to be rude 
or anything. . .but if you've already emailed us 
questions, why do you need to speak to us again? 
I think you just wanna hang out with us." 

He smiles, or smirks. 

There are four boys in the room. Aside from 
Naeem (Spank) -XXXchange (Alex), producer on 
debut Spank Rock LP Yoyoyoyoyoyoyo and DJs C 
Rockswell (Chris) and Ronnie Darko (once described 
by Baltimore City Paper as "some other dude"). 
I could lick the testosterone; but I won't. Instead 



I gulp silently, steal Naeem's water, smile at 
Rockswell cuz he's cute, and explain my feature 
is gonna be longerthan I thought. And when you 
meet artists you get to use descriptions of them. 
Like, I can talk about Spank Rock's wonky glasses 
peering over the copy of Plan B I just gave him. 

"Shit, she's gonna say how nerdy I am." 

I always knew Spank Rock was gonna be more 
than ass and boobs. Booty bass-inflected uptempo 
party hip hop from Baltimore with Hollertronix 
ties: it feels like sex as a luminous orange vinyl 
flying saucer, bumping its way across a post- 
industrial skyline. But this quirky, pixelated rap, 
it has more dimensions. 

Baltimore Bass Connection (BBC) are from 
Baltimore (Chris and other dude), Philadelphia 
(Naeem), and New York (Alex). They are these four, 
and "a couple more DJs in Baltimore", says Alex. 

One time, Alex was at a party at Chris' house, 
and went to his car to sleep. He curled up on a piece 
of old carpet in the boot. Chris lived at the edge of 
a pretty dodgy area at the time, and somebody 
walked by the car and thought Alex was a corpse. 
The police came, and he didn't wake up too fast, 
cuz he was really drunk. 



feet and keep the beat . . . freeeeeeeee! " I want to 
be that voice. There is house, and rave horns, and 
classic bounce, and outta space lust. There's fat, 
grime-conscious bass all over the place. And there 
is Amanda Blank. Back in the early Nineties, Bounce 
MC Silky Slim used to go on about sucking dick and 
being a sister {"I'm the sister, the sister sister, the 
sister sister, the sister sister. . . ") It's like, the stupidest 
track ever. Amanda Blank kicks her ass. I keep 
having to ask people her name, I tell Naeem, 
because I keep forgetting it. He looks at me 
sideways, and faraway, and says " Do they smile 
when they say her name?" She's his girl, you see. 
When I ask Naeem about citings he's made of 
conscious rappers like Mos Def and Common, he 
thinks I am asking him that question about what 
music is on your stereo at the moment. He looks 
at me with the most bored expression, mouth 
a straight line and eyes rectangular, and says, flatly, 
" Last week I had Black On Both Sides and The Black 
Album on my Discman". So I rephrase, explaining 
my theory (OK, it's really Common's theory) of 
conscious rap and the mind, and he says, "Am I 
working in a vein of conscious hip hop? Are you 
asking if I'm a conscious rapper? I'm very conscious 



'Shit, she's gonna say how nerdy I am' 



Naeem used to crash at Alex's house in New 
York, "In hopes of hooking up with the girls he lived 
with". Chris introduced Naeem and Alex at a party. 
(I don't know about the other dude; I can't really 
hear what he says on my tape, except vague stuff 
about " nasty" and "stick my dick in her" and an 
argument with Alex about Jay-Z where Alex says he 
doesn't trust him, and the other dude gets up and 
says, "Well, maybe you ain't connected with the 
hood", with his hair poking out from under his 
trucker cap and his jeans tucked into his mid-calf 
white socks, so we all wet our pants laughing.) 
Naeem says Alex helps him, "To stop being a little 
pansy-ass bitch". 

There is poetry in his reminiscences: of 
middle classes footings and drug corners, and long 
commutes to school in a city where the kids "would 
all pile up in a car, at most, 1 3 deep in a Tercell, and 
go to the hot parties of the weekend. Sometimes it 
was in a high school gym, the YWCA, or a night club 
in a warehouse beneath 1-95, but it was always full 
of brown bodies reeking of weed smoke, baby 
powder, and Tommy Hilfiger cologne. . . " 

Yoyoyoyoyoyoyo was built on Protools 3 on Alex's 
MacG3, "From when they were still brown". He 
"was learning to record at the time, and still am, 
so some of the early vocal sounds are really shitty, 
but they have good attitude so we kept them " . 

On 'Far Left', a DJ Assault-type hyper,machine- 
chunks-bumping track, there is an awesome little 
robot voice that chants "Go ahead and move your 



of what I'm doing." Again, the whole room (save 
Spank) bursts to fits for a whole five minutes. 

Do you like the look of our magazine? Are you 
reading it at all? 

SR: "It looks nice. I'm just looking at the 
pictures. . .1 think it's important to be aware of 
what you're saying and what you put out to the 
public. Music is powerful, rap is very powerful, 
so I appreciate it when there's good messages in 
music. You've heard some of our music, right? Do 
we fit into that category?" 

Alex: "She's saying you're analytical and you 
reveal something..." 

An argument ensues about Ded Prez's 'Eat 
Healthy', which Alex says is "fucking GAY", and 
Naeem swears is the "Greatest rap song in the 
world"; and Bob Marley and James Brown and 
black Uhuru socialism. We talk a bit too about the 
ass. "Didn'tyou think it wasfunny?" asksNaeem, 
Everyone agrees I'm to make a video of a man in 
Speedos wiggling his dick around. 

Live a week later, Naeem wriggles and grinds 
and crouches over the mike, back to his audience, 
and raps at his shadow, and Chris plays Mu. 
Mu is like the Japanese Amanda Blank on crack 
and amyl ! There is mosh, and crowds on stage, 
and I go home with tinnitus. 

When I go pick up my bag and say bye to 
Naeem, he apologises for his sweat, and makes 
me promise not to quote him backstage. Then 
he asks (the air, really, rather than me), "Am I 
a rockstar?" He pauses. "I'm too nerdy, aren't I?" 

plan b 1 67 



higher love 

Words: Dan Bolger 
Photography: Simon Fernandez 



^^t 



Jack Rose/Chris Corsano/Yellow Swans 
The Luminaire, London 

Yellow Swans are an ear-leaking barrage of 



improv drummer, and Jack Rose is Jack Rose, 
plus nimble-pickin' acoustic guitar. You'd think 
this show wouldn't work. It manages to work. 

What these three acts have in common is the 
boundless love they have for their equipment, 
for their tools. You can tell by the looks on their 
faces, from their tiny gestures. You can hear it 
in their music. 

So, early in the evening, we have the duo 
from Oakland, California, Yellow Swans. 
They seem to be in a lover's argument with 
their stuff. A mixing desk to the right, a guitar 
to the left, and some shouting. Fierce shouting. 
Rocking back and forth, piling on the anger, 
strings breaking, feedback feeding back off 
morefeedback.Thevenue is rapidly filling 
with wide eyes and swaying bodies. This is 
an argument that is never quite 
resolved, and in that classic way 
with tumultuous lovers' i/"^' 

relationships, you get p^™ ^ j "^ 
the feeling they ///ce » ,^ 

to argue, that they 
get off on it. 

Chris Corsano, 
set up centre stage, 
does not drum. Not 
to say that he doesn't 
occasionallyfind 
some rhythmic pattern ' 

among the clatter- 
but it's not what one 
would normally term 
'drumming'. He's ] 

playing, that's it. Just - 
playing. As he fixes on his kit, 
circling with his sticks, laying objects 
on a skin, hitting said object and WWM 

removing it at just the moment when 
he's coming back to it. It's like watching a 
juggler, if a jugglertook time to say something 
new and interesting at each catch, to actually 
change the way we look at catching and 
throwing objects. 

Corsano works something up from nothing, 
whirling around his stands and barely smiling, 
barely finding an expression with which to 
fill his face. He is so much part of his setup 
that such outward demonstrations of his 
relationship with it mean nothing, the direct 
opposite of, say. Ginger Baker of Cream 
on an interminable 14-minute drum solo; 
no pumping of fists or twirling of sticks. 

At one point he takes the mouthpiece of 
a saxophone, and places it on his snare drum, 
blowing hard, rattling the snare underneath 
and producing a clear drone. People gasp. 
Corsano's drumming is the kind which 
inspires wonder. The effortless nature of his 
improvisations focus more than a hundred 
people on his restless hands, gaping in awe, 
in the way a beautiful but withdrawn couple 
hang at the sides of events, looking for all 
the world liketheywere made for each other 
and drawing glances from all around. 

Jack Rose is in love with his guitar, this 
much is obvious. As he picks at his strings. 



delicately, masterfully, there is serenity 
on his face. The hush he saves for his own 
music spreads over the crowd, by now thickly 
pressed together. Playing songs that start 
simply, songs with the blues inside of them, 
songs which feel like field recordings, songs 
which taste like straight whiskey. Rose leans 
into every one, eyes half closed, a distant smile 
on his lips. 

For each piece, be it a 1 2-bar derived 
'proper' folk number or a dizzying raga-like 
surge of notes. Rose remains composed and 
at ease, as if he could happily play like this for 
all time. He leans his head to one side, ear close 
to the body of his guitar, gently brushing his 
fingers on the strings with such precision and 
grace, totally in command of the music. 

He could happily play 
like this for all time 



urns- 







When he 
switches from ; 

standard six- . ^- 

string to a high- ^^^ 
action guitar sat on 
his lap, it's astonishing 
to watch his metal ™™..-— _, 

bottleneck fall on the *« 
strings just so, never hitting 
even slightly above or below ***^ 

the note he wants. Rose and his ^ 

guitar work together to make the ^' 
most wonderful things happen, 
gloriously simple complexities that 
burst from the most humble of origins. 

The show, this display of love, draws 
to a close with Rose standing to rapturous 
applause, nodding and smiling to the 
audience, who bay and whoop for more. 
It feels like we've shared something tonight 
with all the performers, something private 
and special, something magical. Isn'tthat 
what love is? 



68 1 plan b 



W4 




plan b 1 69 



live 




through the looking glass 

Words: Lauren Strain 
Photography: Katie Carnage 

Euros Childs 

Star And Garter, Manchester 

"This is a song called 'Supermarket'," he intones, 
in an endearingly pronounced Welsh lilt with its 
feet firmly planted in a great deal of deep sincerity. 
" In the first verse, Henry and Matilda go to the 
supermarket. In the second, Henry buys a shirt 
- and Matilda? A chicken. 

"Later, Henry is trying on his shirt at home. 
He hears a choking sound from below. Thinking 
it might be the dog, he goes downstairs to 
investigate - only to find Matilda dead, face down, 
in pool of her own vomit. Killed. By the chicken. " 

This to a rapt audience of dishevelled, drizzle- 
embalmed Manchester curly-tops; some the 
already-initiated followers of Gorky's Zygotic 
whatsits, some having wandered in to demand 
proof of just how realistic a human being's 
vocalised impression of a stimulated baboon 
can be. "Unnervingly," is the verdict. 

All are bound up in a surprisingly comfortable 
world of unabashed, outright mental derailment; 



even the tiny, two-minute ballads played on the 
organ are bouncy with an indistinguishable oddity 
- yet there is a sense of homeliness about it all, 
as we snuggle up in a cute, spaced-out, pastoral 
world of spring-drenched, hallucinogenic tunes 
that bring to mind hazy pollen, fat bumblebees 
and humming slumber. 

"And why not?! " we cry. Why shouldn't 
a man break into cackles of guffawing "ooh-ooh- 
aggh-aggh"s like a blue-bottomed mandrill on 
glucose? Why shouldn'ttUe band halt, mid-song, 
to allow a communal appreciation of the buzz 
that's emanating from a mystery alcove in the 
pub ceiling? 

To say that the most animated and liberated 
Manchester crowds I've seen thus far have been 
in the attendance of a toothbrush-moustached, 
Morris-meets-cyber-dancing, yodelling banjo 
player (Curtis Eller) and a small, spidery scruffian 
yelping in Welsh about patios being on fire 
(Euros Childs) probably says a lot about our 
mental states, forced as we are into a dull, 
repressive urban monotony for the other 
22 hours of the day. 

A poor and whining undergraduate effort 
at a sociology thesis could probably be gleaned 



from this suspicion, but - don't worry - 1 shan't 
subject you to one. Instead, I'll merely suggest 
that we're actually all a bunch of stark raving 
closet insaniacs - and it really does feel like the 
best way to be. 

Gargling and churning at the chops like a 
lobotomised seagull. Euros cuts from boggle-eyed 
head-throwing to soft, simple ditties in which he 
hides behind his magic-forest thicket of a fringe, 
then twangs out a jaunty barn dance complete 
with blasts of comic harmonica. Curling up 
beneath this whimsical surface, though, is 
something rather tender, vulnerable and jelly 
baby-honest. His off-kilter cartoon dreams -for 
all they're tinged with an unnerving darkness 
or cruel, Tim-Burton-style appeal - have grown 
from a somewhat innocent imagination. 

In the words of a friend: " He's genuinely 
weird, y'see. A lot of people pretend to be, but 
Euros is the real thing. " 

Indeed, there's something sweetly missing 
in his links, but his surrealism is entirely natural; 
and you wouldn't want him any other way. 

Now then, everyone - grab a poncho, some 
clogs and a Lewis Carroll novel, and gather round 
for a trippy spot of storytelling. 



Ariel Pink/Genders 



The Magic Stick, Detroit 

It's a night of what-the-fuck moments, 
mostly brought on by a clash of scenester 
aesthetics in the form of punk-hippie 
audience members. It's hard to believe a 
group so stoned could enjoy the dialectical 
irony of a crusty punk, head half-shaved, 
half-dreads, smoking a cigar-sized blunt and 
making out with his fairy/ballerina girlfriend. 
While this cadre got lost in the stoner 
grooves of openers Genders, they hardly give 
headliner Ariel Pink half a head-nod. Perhaps 
it's that they see some of their future selves 
in the frayed synapses of the acid casualty. 
Pink, adorned with some sort of girlish 
zebra smock, mans the knobs of his 



four-track, playing his pre-recorded lo-fi 
interpretations of Seventies AM radio 
schmaltzy grandeur while singing over 
the top and casually destroying the venue's 
monitors. The atmosphere is karaoke-esque, 
with Pink avoiding eye contact, sheepish 
and apologetic after occasional less-than- 
successful attempts. He's eventually reduced 
to muttering incoherently about how the 
audience must be bored. While not as 
visually stimulating as the gutter/glam 
crew in whose midst I'm standing, there 
is something absurdly endearing about 
a performer changing the night's setlist by 
fast-forwarding a cassette tape. Paranoid 
earnestness rarely sounds so compelling. 
Aaron Shaul 



Deerhoof/Calvin Johnson 



E2 E4, Melbourne 

Indie fantasy love at first croak. Calvin's 
on stage drinking some of that 'Rabbit 
Blood' (fuzz-rock number off When The 
Dream Faded- the title of which, nicely 
put, is the musical equivalent of a nocturnal 
emission). He is tender, funny, sad and 
wonderful. He stares into girls' chests and 
melts their hearts. He strums an acoustic 
guitar and sings in an extra-large baritone 
that bombastically suggests he's been 
guzzling boat fuel. 

Every so often, the sexified Jimmy 
Stewart leans into the mic and rumbles 
in that extremely hairy voice of God of 
his, "Gotyou in my system". Dm, YES. 



When I learned Deerhoof were 
Calvin Johnson's mystery guest, I dropped 
on all fours and made out with the 
sidewalk. Seriously. 

Deerhoof's rapid time-changes are 
vibe-blinding. Greg Saunier molests 
a kick drum, a snare and a cymbal. Satomi 
Matsuzaki auditions for the Batdance and 
throws peculiar shapes in the air. She is the 
palate-cleansing sorbet to the spicier-than- 
wasabi two-guitar attack. Deerhoof are 
awesome, but I am rattled by the rush of 
their inventiveness. It's like the time I drank 
a 40 of malt liquor before a basketball match 
at college and completely discombobulated 
my stroke. 
Shane Moritz 



70 1 plan b 



live 



go ahead and jump! 

Words: Everett True 

Grates Photography: Owen Richards 

The Go! Team/The Grates/Smoosh 

Corn Exchange, Brighton 

When I was a kid, I would bounce from sofa to sofa - back- 
flips, forward tumbles, occasional cannons off the fireplace 
or wall, trying to express the excitement I felt from hearing 
the frantic boogie-woogie piano of Winifred Atwell's 
'The Poor People Of Paris'. I'd put it on once, tire myself out 
- and then play it a dozen times heedless. I feel a somewhat 
similar emotion watching Patience, ebullient and loveable 
singer with Brisbane three-piece The Grates, scissor-kick 
and bounce high into the air like a Sally Ally version of Karen 
O, shameless in her adoration for her feisty-cute band, all 
breathy innuendo and ruinous energy. Except she leaps 
higher than lever managed, even at the age of 10, and 
wears a much longer skirt. 

"Higher, higher/' she pouts on 'Trampoline', chastising 
audience members for dancing ridiculously. Words are flung 
out in a jumble of confusion and abandonment; John's 
brittle-warm guitar lines stagger and stumble amid the 
debris; Alana flays her drums like AnaTs Nin given a bottle of 
cider, and has a smile so wanton it should be banned. I came, 
expecting a lukewarm Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I left, wanting to 
hear Cyndi Lauper's entire pre-fame catalogue again. 

Fifteen years back, Bez made me an honorary Happy 
Monday. The 'dancer' claimed he'd never seen a more 
fucked-up person. I'd been thrown down flights of stairs, 
dragged across concrete, engaged musicians in punch-ups, 
tried to crash a bus travelling at 90mph by strangling the 
driver...l think ofthis while watching The Go! Team's joyful 
chaos, their cheerleading British antics, everything on the 
verge of collapse but continuing nonetheless. Brass blares; 
squidgy instrumental breaks squidge and break; bass pumps 
out bass pumps out dance. The girl with the football socks 
and ra-ra skirt dashes about, confronted by a turbulent 
swirl of sound that indeed recalls the prime years of British 
dance/rock crossover (the Mondays, the Scream, the Rugs) 
but in an unwitting, florid profusion of half-inched guitar 
riffs and buzzing keyboard runs. The Go! Team seem 
perpetually on edge, the way the Mondays always did, 
loose and funky and messed-up but damn danceable. 

"Higher, higher," I mutterto myself, shuffling sideways. 
It beats leaping on sofas. 

When I was about 12, 1 didn't even like pop music, much 
less form a band, much less playthe opening slot at 1,000- 
plus capacity venues. Few of us do, unless we're called 
Smoosh and hail from Seattle and have been championed 
by folk like Chan Marshall, Sleater-Kinney, Pearl Jam and 
Death Cab. Unfortunately, Asy and Chloe seem lost tonight, 
diminished by the crowd's inattention and their own 
nervousness. The girls fill in all the spaces. They shouldn't. 
The girls don't take breaks between the songs. They 
should. Chloe, being a little more untutored, seems more 
responsive. Asy, not enjoying herself, finds her sweet, 
piano-drenched songs of melancholy and vague alienation 
lost within the mix. 'Find A Way,' 'Rad,' 'La Pump' are all 
in-house favourites - but tonight, they don't connect. 

Loosen up, ladies, please. It'll help. 



^....'^ H: 




It beats 
leaping 
on sofas 



DMZ First Birthday Bash 



IVIass, London 

Come meditate on bass weight, says the 
flyer. The bloggers aren't meditating, 
though, they're complaining that the bass 
ain't loud enough. The rest of us? We're 
letting the dubstep riddims wash over us. 

Dubstep is the evil cousin of grime, 
the one that comes round your house and 
makes you steal fivers from your mum's 
purse. But it's cheeky with it. Cheeky like Joe 
Nice, who's come from the USA to tease us 
by rewinding every single track. Cheeky like 
hosts Digital Mystikz, who keep nudging 
the volume up until it vibrates every single 
inch of our being. Tonight is all about 
Skream's 'Midnight Request Line', which 



gets played at least 1 times throughout 
the course of the evening. It's the perfect 
embodiment of the whole dubstep scene: 
the gloomy pop-culture clash of The Specials, 
filtered through two and a half decades of 
electronic grit and treacle. Listen to it long 
enough, and your body will dissolve, until all 
that's left is a disembodied grin, floating 
between the bass bins and the moon. 
Daniel Trilling 



Gogol Bordello 



The Cockpit, Leeds 

The Cockpit is an outsized Anderson shelter 
and tonight it's packed out with art school 
indiekids. And they love Gogol Bordello 
frontman Eugene Hutz. He stomps the stage 



and sings in a thick voice that stretches 
and sneers. Ten minutes in, he's down 
to a yellow vest. Another 1 0, and he's 
bare-chested and standing on the monitors, 
jumping on the accordion player's back 
-yeah, they have an accordion player, and 
a violinist too, and a couple of girls playing 
washboards. Hutz dances and sweats 
and barks commands at the crowd as the 
multi-national collective play their stompy 
swirly gypsypunkpop, the dynamics down, 
speeding up and slowing down, quiet then 
loud, people clapping and singing, dancing 
a bit, jumping a bit. The music pumps 
and swirls, violin and accordion adding 
something exotic and physical but still supple 
enough to turn corners. But, for all of Hutz's 



rockstar moves, they never quite connect, 
and at times it's like having a live-action 
jukebox up on stage. 

They play, everyone has a good time, 
when they leave the stage, people clap 
for more and they come back on for an 
encore. Ah, hell. Knock me out, spin 
me round, break my heart, move my 
feet, move my head. Tell me something 
I don't know. 

Tonight Gogol Bordello are a breath 
from brilliant. And a much smarter man 
than me once said that something which 
is A7ea/'/j/brilliant is a far worse thing than 
that which is simply mediocre. He had 
a point. Did I expect too much? Fuck knows. 
Ben Hoyle 



plan b 1 71 



live 




bagging hearts 

Words: Nicola Meighan 
Photography: Shirlaine Forrest 

Kano 

The Venue, Edinburgh 

He's a scampering wag, a sky-high crackerjack: 
a thriving, five-alive, super-fly guy. He glides over 
grime, jungle, braggart garage, fire-crack R&B. 
He has sex a hundred times a day. He holds hands 
in the sunshine; he calls his girl Ladybird. He's older; 
he's wiser. He's only a baby. 

And he's here bagging hearts with his 
staggering charms and his swaggering psalms 
and his chattering plans - and our hands, hands, 
hands are in the air. And all the girls wear their 
hair straight, white Lycra swimwear. Obsession, 
Exclamation, Eternity - everywhere. 

And all the pretty fly for a white guys dive from 
the perennial blight of a school night, pretend it's 
not their parents parked by the crap boombox 
cars outside, while NASTY crew relationship guru 
K to the A to the N to the - from the East End 
of London, the bright side of love - bounces, 
bounces, bounces. He spits, sings, sighs over grime, 
garage, hip hop, rock - and the room sweats into 



our ears and our eyes and our hearts and our 
alcopops. It makes us smart and it makes us happy. 

"What am I gifted?" 

Mike Skinner protege; Brit Award nominee; 
Mobo winner, ex-footballer, songwriter, producer 
- Kane, Kane Robinson, MC Kano - ducks and 
bolts under a low, sticky ceiling, flanked by 
a juvenile gaggle of bedraggled tracksuits 
with cameras and backing tracks and wishful 
moustaches. He chants, dances, and banters with 
the rabble of adulating fans -teenage ganstas in 
a pasty mass - who sputter all over the remarkable 
arias of our protagonist's 2005 debut. Home Sweet 
Home, verbatim: they counterpoint the high points 
with furtive adolescent arse-gropes and soaring 
cubic-zirconia encrusted mobile phones. 

Lyrically skidding over old school hip hop, 
accelerated soul samples, rabid axe-riffs, cocksure 
two-step and glorious, garbled dancehall 
shenanigans, Kano's rapid-fire, magniloquent 
poise gladly gambols amid the industrial guitar 
chug and infuriated beef of 'Typical Me'; the 
sugary, summertime love grime of 'Brown Eyes'; 
the spattering, nihilistic nod to street etiquette 
that's savage synth parp, 'Ps and Q's'. He's a fierce 
everyday chronicler of urban realism, metropolitan 



commentary, hoodie melodrama, boyish swagger 
and self-justification - and woah, can he deliver. 

"When I see the fans go mad I think, why do 
they Hide me? /There's about a thousand other boys 
Justlil<eme" 

"We need a rave up here! " he laughs; the 
crowd in his palm; cracks an ample smile: "Where's 
all me ladies?" And duly, on demand, the ladies 
traipse onstage, scores of dolled-up girls - shaking 
their hair and flashing their wares; snapping up the 
mic; sizing up Kano's tiny, wide-eyed crew boys, 
and duly terrorising them to such extent that the 
innumerable beauties are forcefully removed. 

"Come linl< me, and lay with me, and wal<e up 
from sleep, and still look hot- like 80 degrees? 
That's an angel to me, " he gently 'fesses on down 
time declaration, 'Nite Nite'. And the awkward 
boys quietly acquiesce, and the sassed-up 
girls casually nod a 'yes', and the room erupts 
with 2,000 arms, and phones alight the sky like 
stars. And Kano reminds us that he has issued 
a benchmark and assuredly raised the bar. And 
he sounds like a demon, a rascal: a genius. And 
he looks like everybody, a miscreant: a hero. He's 
a swaggering wisecrack. He's a hundred degrees. 
He's the sweetest MC. That's an angel to me. 



Joana And The Wolf 



The Luminaire, London 

There is a tiny woman crawling across 
the floor in front of us. She is barefoot and 
blindfolded, wild and dishevelled; a strange 
little creature from a much better world. 
Her voice penetrates the room with a fierce 
and animalistic ire. Behind her, the band 
are pounding through music that seems so 
primal and visceral it may have been around 
since the beginning of time. Billed as 'Kate 
Bush meets the Stooges', Joana And tTe 
Wolf would be better described as, 'Kate 
Bush waits in the woods for The Stooges, 
and gobbles them up on their way home'. 

"Do you believe in witches? Do you like 
to burn them?" she asks. Am'Me-aged 



smartieatthebaryells "yes", and Joanna 
spins around and howls "then burn me! " 
and I think she really means it. There is 
a magic in the air tonight. As she stands 
there whispering "Tm patient, Tm patient, 
I'm patient" oyer and over again, a wry smile 
spreads across her face and you can tell she 
doesn't mean it at all. This is her turn. This is 
hertime. 
Ki Ellwood 



The Borderline, Londo 

So they come on, and there's big guitars, big 
sideburns, big drums. The band are bursting 
with energy and ambition. They dish out 
slabs of fat, shiny pop-rock anchored with 



a woodling synthesised buzz - California 
via Brighton via Pluto. 

But there's this punter dancing in my 
face -flailing her arms about wildly like 
a cross between Ian Curtis and Chico - and 
I want to punch her the head because she's 
kind of ruining the gig. The only solution 
is to focus intensely on the band, who pay 
attention to every button and note, every 
beat and step and eyelash. A pouting pixie 
who could deck you without breaking a nail, 
and a lanky frontman with lambchops sing 
with bitter euphoria about stuff like getting 
out of rubbish relationships, and looking 
at people with good hairdos. The rest of the 
band are straight out oftheMuppets- a 
skinhead Animal on drums, a chainsmoking 



Ralph on synths, and the puppet with the 
saxophone and sunglasses on bass. 
The music welcomes rather than 
challenges, a soundtrack more for mates 
and parties than headphones and bedrooms. 
Kovak are at once traditional and surprising, 
populist and joyous, energised by the sea air 
and good times. 
Nadia Shireen 



Jens Lekman/Bill Wells/ 
The Legend !/Esio Trot 



St Andrew's Church, Hove 

I've always seen words in blocks, shapes 
- not sentences or letters, but shapes, like 
patterns coalescing on a chessboard, fluid. 
I see concerts as birdsong: unfettered, 



72 I plan b 



live 




occult status 

Words: Pil and Galia Kollectiv 

Leopard Leg Photography: Simon Fernandez 

Li a rs/Kai to/Leopard Leg 

ULU, London 

The vicissitudes of London transport being such 
as they are, we arrive at ULU 1 minutes late, 
leaving just the last couple of Leopard Leg's short 
set. Two minutes with this much visual and aural 
stimulation is a lot though - we are greeted with 
the remains of some black magic ritual, a coven 
of pixie girls spanning the sartorial rainbow of 
subcultures from hardcore punk to winged angel 
to jaunty sailor girl. This flurry of frilly dresses 
and curious headgear is crouched beneath 
a staggering, sprawling mushroom forest of 
a drumkit, mid off-key chant, the beats winding 
down to a slow thrum. A more perfect opening 
for Liars is hard to imagine. It takes the band longer 
to pack their gear and clear the stage than it did to 
play the set. In a scene that seems almost to belong 
to one of Henry Darger's fantastic paintings, more 
and more girls emerge from beneath yet more 
weirdly shaped forms of percussions. Drum is most 
certainly not dead tonight. 



A brief digression for Kaito, splendid as ever 
and more feral than ever, follows. Still England's 
best and most unappreciated guitar band, Kaito 
manage to find roughness and coldness beneath 
their psychedelic noise-pop. 

Then it's time to surrender completely to 
the dark art of drum, no bass, Angus' features 
melting into some kind of double face, twitching 
in and out of focus. 



Liars are able to address the rhetoric of power 
that they have escaped; the meeting point of 
Germany's past and America's future. 

It is as if the student union bar is seeing the 
birth of a new post-hippie European cult, fed with 
a constant diet of acid and Can, the lethal cocktail 
of experimentalism, disquiet and boredom from 
which the Red Army Faction was born in the late 
Sixties. It is by tackling, rather than just enacting. 



A staggering, sprawling mushroom 
forest of a drumkit 



Crossing the stage like the Golem, awkwardly 
stomping, stiff-legged, Angus leads us away from 
our preconceptions, and by the time he shoves the 
microphone in his mouth for 'We Fenced Other 
Houses With The Bones Of Our Own', not so much 
fellating as sermonising without words, he has us 
in the palm of his hand. 

It suddenly clicks that this isn't just some wilfully 
obscure witchologising: with the new material, 
in particular, the Children Of The Corn/Blair Witch 
heebie-jeebies have gained a kind of political 
resonance, as though, from the distance of Berlin, 



as most bands do, this kind of leader-cult crossover 
of right-wing fundamentalism and Fascism, 
that the Liars seem to edge towards an 
uncomfortable truth. 

The new album is still lying unopened back 
home, not just waiting for when we get two 
seconds to have a proper listen, but also gaining 
importance as some kind of relic. It's only now 
that we've seen the new material live twice that 
we want to go home and listen to it at last. 

Screw the Tube, we're riding back home on 
broomsticks tonight. 



inspiring but oddly limited to the same five 
or six notes, the same patterns forming and 
un-forming and reforming. All I seek are 
the odd moments of magic - my baby Isaac 
smiling, innocent of hurt and hatred; a half- 
empty church, icy cold, high arches, low 
eaves, with a few troubadours singing songs 
of rejection and hope onstage, coloured by 
brass and a tinkling keyboard. 

All I look for are those moments of 
magic: someone or something slightly 
askew-the girls on the door selling the most 
delicious chocolate cake for 50p a slice, or 
the tea steaming up gratefully in our hands, 
anything to stave off the cold, Jens Lekman 
with the power suddenly blown out, picking 
up an acoustic guitar and continuing to the 



accompaniment of finger-clicking and 
a softened saxophone, a teenage girl in 
raptures, twisting and turning through 
the church aisles with her partner. 

Onstage myself, with Chris Anderson 
playing his tinkling Omnichord keyboard, 
strumming moments of beauty behind my 
unamplified voice that takes strange turns 
and twists soaring up to the rafters as I sing 
of death and Girls To Share Your Life With, 
breastfeeding and decayed ambition. On 
stage myself, jacket thrown off, jumper 
thrown off, because as Jens says when he 
appears - and does same - it's the best way 
to keep warm in a snowstorm, strip naked 
and huddle up to a companion. Watching 
from the crowd as Esio Trot charm and 



beguile, transported back to 1 988 and it's 
a village hall in Hertford and The McTells 
and Beat Happening are onstage, and The 
Legend! plays a set with his electric guitar 
unplugged, and everything is discordant and 
jangling, out-of-tune but so mesmerising, 
Velvet Underground filtered through a 
secondhand tape recorder and a collection of 
Postcard Records. Watching from the crowd 
as Bill Wells soothes and excites us mightily 
with his jazz-inflected firestorms, the female 
brass section from Gothenburg improvising 
harmony and rhinestones like I've continually 
missed from rock music, Jens playing a bass 
- a favour that Bill then returns. 

Watching from the crowd as Jens sings 
his own Beat Happening sample; and 



afterwards, sated by the tea and cake 
and wonderful chilly atmosphere, we 
watch Jens Lekman play half-a-dozen songs 
to half-a-dozen fans (by request) as most 
folk shuffle out anyway, figuring that 
concerts should have a proper end, and 
we discuss Scout Niblett and Television 
Personalities before braving the bitter 
storm outside. 

On the drive back, Chris Anderson says: 
"Well, wasn't there something wonderfully 
English aboutthiswhole evening?" and 
it's hard to deny his observation. Fortitude, 
beauty, village halls, music. . .sometimes 
I'm still proud to be living here in Brighton 
(and Hove, actually). 
Everett True 



plan b 1 73 



live 



gig diary: broken family band 



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The Junction Shed, Cambridge 

We started our band in Cambridge, but tonight's show in a very civilised and modern theatre space is set up 
to be a far bigger deal than our usual sweaty performances in our favourite boozer. This is our concession to 
acting like 'local boys done good'. Obviously we haven't done that good, but people are nice here and they 
treat us like we have. 

For some reason, an entire film crew has been hired to record the show. They're a mixture of professionals 
and students. The experienced guys are friendly and the students look like they're shitting themselves, 
although they're probably just shy. 

The show starts off well, then a chubby, drunk American at the front starts shouting, "Fuckin' Johnny Cash 
man! HankWilliams motherfuckers!" a couple of songs in, so I explain that we're being filmed and if the first 
decent video document of our band includes him shouting the names of his favourite pop singers I'll be very 
unhappy. Every so often, I have to ask him to shut his fat face, but his eyes are glazed and he's a soft target. 
And I might be a little bit drunk. A mate goes over and has a word with the chap while we attempt to harness 
the redemptive power of rock'n'roll. 

The cameras put me off my stroke, to be honest. I like to show off, but they make me edgy. The others 
don't seem to mind at all. Jay throws himself and his guitar into it. . .I'm just standing there, trying to avoid 
looking into any cameras because I think that's what Malkmus or Sparhawk would do, while Jay's living out 
his rock fantasies, hurling his face at the lens and riffing like he's trying out for Dio. 

I hardly know where to look, but I'm glad he does it, because we shouldn't take this pop music bollocks 
too seriously. . . even when we're forking out Christ knows how much on getting it filmed. It's not going to 
make Sundance, but it should be fun to watch. 



gig diary: eight days a week 

Words: Robin Wilks 

You know all those moments where you think, 
"That sounds great, but I probably need a night in"? 
This month, I went to them all. So I'm exhausted, but 
I also feel fantastic. I've set my London spinning 
faster and faster and I'm more in love with music 
than ever before. 

The month started with Tahiti 80, a sugary French 
disco-pop act in a Phoenix vein. Every song sounds like 
a pop hit, and there's an awesome percussion 
breakdown at the end. And a panda head. Brilliant. 

iViakolm Kaksois is a legend. He has the voice of 
a chainsmoking wino, but his songs of embarrassment 
and awkwardness are brilliantly put together. This 
month he played a free gig in Whitechapel Art Gallery 
cafe. Unfortunately, the place was full of smarmy 
pseuds chatting loudly. The art world clearly isn't 
ready for him, the suckers. 

Two nights on. The Wrens recharged my love for 
rock music with a blistering set, mostly drawn from 
their immense The Meadowlands album. Their 
energy onstage was incredible; the songs are unique, 
breathtaking; we jumped up and down and grinned 
ecstatically. 



Sunday night was drone night; iViorgen und Nite, 

featuring Frances Morgan on synths and guitar wizard 
Leee Nite, were as awesome as ever, a gradually 
building splatter painting of psychedelic electronics. 
Heather Leigh iViurray played a hypnotic, raga-like 
trance set, and then shattered the atmosphere entirely 
by bringing out the harmonica; and Zaimph created 
a righteous wall of supercharged noise. Wicked. 

The next night I saw Fortune Drive, whose singer 
is James Brown's godson, but this isn't funk, it's trad 
rock with a smattering of soul. If I were 1 6, I'd go nuts 
to this band, but ittook me a while to get past the 
rock cliches. 

Stellastarr* area bit like that, except that there's 
something very refreshing about the way the singer 
can start a song in a low-key Jarvis Cocker and build 
to a punky catarrghy scream, and the band are 
like, "Yeah, it's fucking contrived, this is all just a 
patchwork of ripped-off influences, but so what?" 

And then there was They Came from the Stars 
(I Saw Them), who used to have about a million 
members, and now have four. They played to a 
roomful of people who didn't give a shit- but they 
should; the Stars have a brand new set of wild 
psychedelic dance music. Can someone book them to 
play a rave, please? 



Made Out Of Babies 



Joseph's Well, Leeds 

Like your worst nightmare and your most 
cotton-mouthed hangover, a IVIade Out Of 
Babies song sweats and squirms, and your 
life flashes before your eyes. Julie Xmas out- 
stares the front-row dullards; one second 
she's cooing like a spoilt child, the next 
she's coughing up Kat Bjelland's furballs. 

The lunatic heavy-breathing that she 
shares with us between songs, pacing 
an insane circle, is just a precursor for the 
whirling dervish she unleashes once the 
screaming begins. 

But a room awaiting the soundscapes 
of Red Sparowes is not a room that wants 
its privacy invaded by a troubled young 
woman's histrionics, and dwindling 
numbers lap up the final moments of this 
New York quartet's primal scream therapy 
and breeze-block guitar grooves. Julie leaves 
the stage with the air of someone for whom 
that last hour was not a performance at all. 
HayleyAvron 



Shy Child 



Trash, London 

One of our greatest disappointments was 
the discoverythatthe Roland AX-1, better 
known as the guiboard or the keytar, 
was not actually an instrument but 
rather a controller for your run-of-the-mill 
synthesiser. It sure looks cool, though, and 
Shy Child make the most of it with a minimal 
set based purely on live drums and phoney 
keyboard axe-wielding. Cowbells in varying 
sizes make an appearance too, which would 
place this New York duo squarely within 
the punk funk, er, square outlined by 
The Rapture, if not for the fact that their 
intense, compact sound makes at least three 
members of The Rapture sound superfluous. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



Stereoiab 



The Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa 

I've been lucky enough to see Stereoiab 
many times now, for well over a decade. 
Their particular hotwiring of a slew of 
differing impulses into a particular whole 
stands strong even as more bands than I can 
count have followed, often poorly, in their 
footsteps. But the last time I saw them you 
could tell that the then-recent death of Mary 
Hansen had left understandably deep scars. 
The performance was good enough but you 
could feel the loss - in the sound, the sense 
of the band, the memories of the audience. 

Two years on and, while her absence 
is still apparent, Stereoiab have chosen to 
keep on keeping on. Where Laetitia Sadler 
last time seemed hesitant without Mary's 
harmonies, now she is the vocal core around 
which the rest flows. From there, the rest 
of the band continues to produce that 
psych/jazz/drone/pop fusion - much like 
John Peel said of The Fall, "Always different, 
always the same" -which at its best can 
still thrill from the first note. 

A rapturous receptions comes for one 
of the oldest songs, 'Pack Yr Romantic 
Mind', given a slightly gentler arrangement 
but still packing that perfect little kick. 
But the songs from the recent singles and 
fa/? foivrSiyfivre compilation, especially 
'Interlock' and 'Excursions Into "Oh, 
A-Oh"', are performed with all the spirit of 
the band at its best, even as all there who 
remember keep one name in mind tonight. 
Ned Raggett 



74 1 plan b 






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1 2006 


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Festival of Advanced Music 
end Multimedia Art 
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power to the twee-pie 

Words: Everett True 

Retro Spankees Photography: Emily Graham 

The Retro Spankees/Winston Echo/The Bobby 
McGees/Das Wunderlust/Larry Pickleman 

The Free Butt, Brighton 

Words meander fitfully. Words leap and laugh around, 
caustic in their indignation. Faces flurry past, an ice storm 
of blurred memories and irritating cigarette smoke. I can't 
recall the last time I had so much rare fun. I can't recall the 

Music as comforting 
and sticlcy as an 
ice-cream on holiday 

last time I watched four-and-a-half bands from the front 
section of the Butt. I can't recall much, actually- which 
may accountfor my continuing enthusiasm. I have few 
comparison points, little context. 

Larry Pickleman transports me back to that squat in 
New Cross Road where 'ranting' poets such as Seething 
Wells and the (annoying, even then) Ben Elton would hold 
court, splendid in their sardonic anger. Mr Pickleman 
draws upon the odd sample of noise. Guinness, a store 
of stories concerning his three children - mostly along the 
lines of "Go to school, they say/Or you'll be a FOOL, they 
say" and is so ebullient, so good-natured it's all I can 
do to stop myself from leaping onstage and joining in 
as a human fret-box. Guitar bites, like Joe Strummer. 
Words hurt, like Courtney. "Ah, but you would like it, " 
the Irishman says afterwards. "You're an old fucker like 
me." True, but he makes me feel young again. 

Das Wunderlust leap up and down, up and down, 
sending out spiteful shreds of emotion and break-up 
material, arguing vociferously with other Middlesbrough 
sorts in the audience, the keyboard clashing and 
hiccupping loudly. . .far more early punk-disco Bis 
than Help She Can't Sing, which is a fucking relief: far 
more Valerie than vanity; not serious enough to merit 
attention in the 'proper' music press, doubtless, but again 
this is a relief. They charm, and smile, and bounce, and 
swap instruments -or do they? Maybe they just sound 
like that. Music as comforting and sticky as an ice cream 
on a hot summer's day: no, really. 



The Bobby McGees leave me flummoxed: 
a ripped-out tooth necessitated way too much alcohol 
consumption on the part of Mr McGee himself (smart 
shoes, suit, beard, strong Glaswegian accent) as he 
strums his ukulele and mostly tries to rile the audience. 
His companion (demure, flower-pattern dress, ukulele) 
looks on disdainfully in her punk rock librarian glasses as 
he takes audience members to task over their Converse 
footwear- "I'll get back to you later," he barks at one: 
later includes a shoe being hurled onstage in response 
to a new number called 'I Fucking Hate Converse'. The 
songs are absolutely charming, twee-r than Uncle Twee's 
simpering elder brother Joe Twee McTwee Twee Top - 
'Please Don't Dump Me' (the title repeated over and over 
again), 'No Friends' {"I've got no friends. ..not one. . . "). 
It's all in the delivery. Simultaneously antagonistic and 
heartrending and dumb. The Bobby McGees are purest 
essence of C86, distilled and with a thousand early BMX 
Bandits bootlegs clutched to their hearts. 

Winston Echo looks like a very nervous Frank Black, 
alone up there on stage, frantically strumming away at 
his acoustic and exhorting usalltoshutthefuckup: his 
nervousness communicates itself as charm. He stops a 
number, forgets words, starts another, takes requests, 
sings pitiful and lonely songs about dole life, falls in love 
with someone on the Bureau de Change desk, hopes 
they notice him, strums some more, words nearly lost in 
his earnestness. I'd say he was a nascent English version 
of Daniel Johnston, if that wasn't too obvious - or 
a Noughties Clive Pig. I love to compare people to Clive 
Pig, cos no one knows what the fuck I'm on about. 

I miss The Retro Spankees, mostly: they seem 
excellent, they have a song that may or may not 
be named after a near neighbour of Brighton, they 
bounce up and down with even more alacrity than Das 
Wunderlust- but lose points for having fewer female 
members - and they too have keyboards, and sound like 
they grew up grooving to the unfettered fun of Bis. They 
too are similarto Help She Can't Sing, only THEY'RE FUN. 
The drummer presses two copies of their album into my 
hand, the childishly gleeful / Know You Are But What Am 
I? What, in case I lose the first? I'm most glad he does, 
though, because now I have - to quote Dickon - a secret 
crush on the fourth trombone. I absolutely fucking LOVE 
this music, and want all five acts to reprise this entire 
show, in my front room, six weeks from now, recorded 
on four-track, no arguing. 



Sunburned Hand Of The Man 



Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh 

By the end of the show, they're wearing 
latex horse masks, gold blankets and 
old towels draped over their heads, banging 
on drums while one gives a sermon from 
the mic-something vapid and pretentious 
and maybe a joke. 

"Would the falcon rest his eyes on the 
distance for half a dollar? Would the falcon 
deprive himself of all the liquid assets in 
themultiverse?" 

Even when the group is at their very 
best, playing a decomposing desert 
blues that's simultaneously fleet-footed 
and sludgy, I can't decide if they're 
jokers, wankers, or something seriously 
striking. These bear-hugging fellows 
courtjuvenility and childish instinct, but 
it's easy for such impulses to manifest as 
mere bullshit. 

In the middle of all the noise and the 
drone and the feedback, all the squeals 
and the shakes, someone kicks over 
a snare drum and I wonder: Does it matter 
if there's any meaning? If the signified 
is an empty voice-bubble? Can I take 
pleasure in a handful of sympathetic 
noisemakers, each making noises 
in sympathy? 

Yes. I can. 

But not for as long as they think. 
Sean Michaels 



Tiga/Altern8 



The End, London 

The very first music I ever loved was the 
rave music of the early Nineties, albeit 
before I was aware of concepts such 
as drugs and raves. It's immensely 
gratifying, now that I'm aware of both, 
to live through its revival: Bang Face, 
insane European techno MP3s exchanged 
online, AlternS live at Bugged Out! 
clad in yellow boiler suits and speeding 
through all those hits at a ferocious 
headspinningpace. 

It's almost certainly not like it was for 
those glowstick-waving early ravers the first 
time round, but just hearing the opening 
bars of 'EvaporS' makes me feel like I'm 
nine years old again. And that's a feeling 
I don't want to deny. 

Fast forward into the present: 
Canadian electrosexgod Tiga couldn't 
exist in any decade other than this one. 
He pulls together strands from across 
the whole spectrum of dance music 
with scant regard for purism or genre 
micro-boundaries. 

He's not afraid of being really, really 
obvious with his setlist (though for every 
'Mandarine Girl' or 'Washing Up', there's 
a sequence which sounds like nothing 
you've ever heard before), which means 
that pretty much every anthem du jour 
is crammed into the night somehow: the 
'What Else Is There?' remixes back-to-back, 
his own 'Pleasure From The Bass' (three 
times, by our count). 

And, as it all gets just a little 
light-headed in the final stages, he 
starts a tag-team effort with Erol Alkan, 
2manyDJs and Trevor Jackson. 

Before we know it, we're bouncing 
frantically around to Madonna, Phoenix, 
Mu and Christopher Just, trying in vain 
to get all the dancing done before the 
sunrises... 
Alex Macpherson 



76 1 plan b 



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psychic confusion 



Words: Everett True 
Photography: Steve Double 



Sonic Youth 

Sonic Youth (Geffen) 
Ciccone Youth 

The Whitey Album (Geffen) 
Thurston Moore 

Psychic Hearts (Geffen) 

The year is 1 981 . Guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee 
Ranaldo are immersed in New York's No Wave scene 
(Lydia Lunch, Talking Heads), the fluid post-punk dance 
of 99 Records (ESG, The Bush Tetras), multi-layered guitar 
orchestras (composer Glenn Branca), minimalist art, 
sticking drumsticks under guitar strings and the cleansing 
power of punk rock. With arts journalist Kim Gordon, 
they form a group - Sonic Youth. Drummer Richard Edson 
follows; the quartet records a five-track mini-album. Sonic 
Youth, for Branca's Neutral Records in 1 982. No detuned 
guitars, no deconstructionist compositional structures. 
A clean, pure sound that radicalises opinion, built on the 
dub spaces of Black Uhuru and discordant beauty of The 
Contortions, songs like Kim Gordon's spooked 'I Dreamed 
I Dream' lacerating in their solemnity. Metal strings clang 
and resonate harshly. Percussion is tight and danceable. 

The reissued, remastered and expanded version 
- including seven songs recorded live in September '81 , 
an entirely rawer and more punk sound - still sounds 
brutally alive, especially now. 



themselves immersed in the explosive underground hip 
hop scene, homemade beatbox grooves blasting from 
street corners (Beastie Boys, Run DMC). East Village disco 
queen Madonna rules, department store Macy's runs 
a karaoke booth where you can record your own video 
for 20 bucks, Thurston and the gang are in a playful mood, 
relating instinctively to the stripped-down style of the Def 
Jam rappers. John Cage is in fashion, as is Robert Palmer's 
MTV mainstay 'Addicted To Love'. Eno and Neul never 
went out of style. The Whitey Album (1 989) is a chaotic, 
messy indulgence: a few moments of brilliance ('Platoon 
!!'), two nervy and fun covers, and a whole bunch of weird 
hip hop/sampled beats/ambient and avant-garde music, 
helped by Minutemen bassist Mike Watt. 

The reissued, re-mastered version throws in a bonus 
instrumental track, 'MacBeth'. 

"That record was done in a weird time period, " recalls 
Thurston. "We'd just gotten off of years and years of 
touring all over the world. We weren't hip hoppers but we 
wanted that street rock vibe. We sampled all these beats 
primarily from LL Cool J's first album. We did that because 
we kinda knew that's what people did. The album started 
with the Madonna cover. We're like, yeah, she's pretty 
tacky but 'Into The Groove' kicks ass. We played on top of 
it and I sang along, and then we did a 1 2-inch of it. There 
was a lot of attention given to it in European clubs. It was 



^DNA were like Led Zeppelin to us, 

unattainable levels of musicianship' -Thurston Moore 



"We were all tapped into what was happening in New 
York at the time, " explains Ranaldo. " It was recorded one 
day, mixed the next - all at the old Plaza Sound where the 
first Blondie and Ramones and Richard Hell records were 
done, records that meant so much to us. 

"Atthetime, indie labels were really odd things," he 
continues. " Neutral was coming out of experimental 
minimalism. The album was more of an art happening. 
People didn't know how to market it. We played the 
Walker Arts Centre, and a big minimalist festival in Vienna. 
Thurston and I met when he was in The Coachmen, and 
I was with The Blunt. We started seeing each other in 
these weird little dive-y bars. He struck me as very tall: 
his band played Talking Heads meets Velvets type covers 
and it seemed we had a lot of common ground right away. 
Straddling the art world and the punk rock world. We were 
both young and hungry and wanting to be part of it. " 

"We found this live recording from a show way up the 
Lower East Side at a synagogue," Thurston Moore says, 
referring to the album's bonus tracks. " It was our third or 
fourth gig, back when we were still informed by Mars - and 
possibly DNA, although DNA were like Led Zeppelin to us, 
unattainable levels of musicianship. Somehow, Glenn got 
us time at this studio where Thelonius Monk recorded. We 
thought all studios were like that- massive, beautiful old 
wooden rooms with 24-track recording consoles. We soon 
learned with [second album] Confusion Is Sex most of them 
are in your friends' basements with the reel-to-reel running. 

"Within a few months, that recording became the first 
EP. We had yetto do the tunings," Moore adds. "We had 
one guitar that we shared. Soon after that, the guitar broke 
and so I asked Glenn if we could borrow some guitars. He 
came over witha couple under his arm. On one of them the 
neck was shaved with a knife so it was a spike. They were 
all tuned to whatever he'd tuned them to; whole flush 
single chord, mass note. I remember strumming one, 
going 'cool' and immediately writing something on it." 

The year is 1 988. Second drummer Bob Bert has 
departed to form groovy noise-fuck art terrorists Pussy 
Galore. Steve Shelley is now the man. Sonic Youth find 



the only time we ever came close to a hit. So we decided 
to do a whole album of that f ucked-up music. It was right 
when we were writing Daydream Nation. " 

"Hip hop was on the rise in NYC," adds Lee. "It really 
captivated us. We thought it was urban folk music and 
we wanted to tap into that energy. Also, we were into 
what Madonna was doing, and songs like 'Born In The 
USA', 'Purple Rain', and John Mellencamp's 'Scarecrow'. 
Suddenly, there was music on the radio that was exciting 
again. So here we were, an underground band, grooving 
on Madonna and her place in the pop firmament, and we 
wanted to step outside our path and challenge ourselves 
in a different way. We wanted to start from scratch, no 
concept - part of the story now is that we wanted to make 
a beatbox, hip hop record. But immediately we went in, it 
took on ambient noise textures. Hardly any of it was hip 
hop, which was as surprising to us as to anyone else. " 

The year is 1 995. Thurston Moore decides he wants to 
make a three-sided solo album, engraved on the final side. 
He enlists the aid of Steve Shelley and Half-Japanese 
guitarist Tim Foljahn. RiotGrrrI has happened, a feminist 
movement influenced by Sixties pop. Rough Trade female 
post-punk and Sonic Youth themselves. Thurston picks 
up on the new generation's youthful fervour, their naive 
adventurism. Yoko Ono remains in favour, as does poetess 
Patti Smith and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna. Psychic Hearts 
sounds like Sonic Youth demos - ie, no compositional 
structure but plenty of songwriting - and mainly serves to 
push Moore's claim as an extraordinary guitarist, especially 
the 20-minute closing tour de force 'Elegy For All The Dead 
Rock Stars'. It's not strictly necessary, but rewarding. 

"I still like all those songs," Thurston says, "though 
they are very sketched. It was a look at how those songs 
exist before Sonic Youth make them... good." He laughs. 
"They're good on their own, but they're not Sonic Youth- 
ised. I sing everything through an amplifier because I hated 
my voice so much. I wanted to do something that didn't 
involve any kind of democratic decision-making, where 
I could present myself doing rock music without all the 
baggage of a live context. " 

plan b 1 79 



albums 




skeleton keys 

Words: Stevie Chick 
Illustration: Ben Newman 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs 

Show Your Bones (Dress Up) 

'Maps' dragged Yeah Yeah Yeahs from the arty trash- 
milieu of NYC, and paraded them before Hollywood at 
the MTV Movie Awards: a luxuriant, romantic swoon 
that wrong-footed all those who bought the NME hype, 
which itself bought Karen O's lyric book at face value and 
thought it was 'playing along' by portraying her as some 
debauched, man-hungry, indie-stude wank fantasy. 

'Maps' was a moment of vulnerability, revealing 
a dimension obscured by tracks like 'Rich' or 'Bang', 
where puffed up to her full five feet to roar righteous 
fire at those fucks that sucked. 'Maps' was like that 
moment in The Breakfast Club when the kids talk about 
why they're so fucked up and what their home lives 
are like - context that gave their more spiteful, riotous 
moments a new tension. 

Understandably, 'Maps' is a key reference for 5/701/1/ 
Your Bones. The bluegrass punk of 'Mysteries' catches 
the group at their most exhilaratingly breezy, while 
'Phenomena' is an unwise step into glacial, grating punk- 
rap novelty; mostly, though, the album makes good on 
the group's early reports of a darker, more acoustic mood. 

Ballads make up the meat of Show Your Bones. 
On 'Cheated Hearts', O's a 21^^ Century Chrissie 
Hynde, her voice a golden tremolo of longing on 
the verses, a whip-crack of smarts on the chorus. 
For 'Dudley', Nick Zinner ably marshals a bank of FX 



A dreamy, near-perFect 
morsel of prairie pop 



pedals so his guitars conjure up a glimmering chamber 
for O's slow-burn sigh. 'Warrior', meanwhile, sounds 
like the trio busking on some deserted Old West 
soundstage somewhere in Hollywood, Brian Chase 
barely tapping lucid toms as Zinner tugs at a busted 
dustbowl acoustic and yowls harsh laments into 
a rusted Radio City microphone, the gaps between 
sounds and unvoiced tensions giving it a sense of 
churning Depression-era drama. 

Show Your Bones peaks (and, aside from us lucky 
Brits who get the bonus stomper 'Deja Vu', climaxes) 
with 'Turn Into'. It's a dreamy, near-perfect morsel of 
prairie pop, from O's honeyed, tobacco chewing vocal, 
rolling like a country diva on the long vowel sounds, to 
the Morricone-esque strums of guitar, to Zinner's wailing 
high-register guitar hook, screeing over the descending 
chords like Roy Orbison with tears pouring from under 
his Wayfarers. 

It's in these windswept, widescreen moments that 
the album soars highest, tugging hard at the heartstrings. 
Uncynical balladeers for the eyeliner'n'Converse massif, 
now Yeah Yeah Yeahs await a 2 1 st Century John Hughes 
film to soundtrack. 



Love And Other Planets (Domino) 

Shuffle, creak, begin. The most soothing, 
sighing, fluctuating balm this side of the 
cindering hearth and rag-rug, 'Warning 
Call' holds moleskin, dust, spider's webs 
and ancient wax in its soft hands. Adem 
llhan, copper-crowned king of a certain 
breed of rustic futurism and fire, has his 
guardian angels surround you, drizzling 
their ubiquitous glockenspiels and ethereal 
sheens of shimmer over 'Human Beings 
Gather Round'. 

Crouched in an earthen hideaway carved 
into a cliff, curled up among woollens, flames 
and wall hangings, your big round eyes peer 
out across a black hulk of sea and up into 
a navy night sky, teary with wonder. 
Lauren Strain 



Free USA (Ping Pong Discos) ■ 

Kassin is a Brazilian producer/musician who 
has worked with Caetano Veloso and Joao 
Donato, owns a home studio and produces 
lots of up-and-coming bands from Rio de 
Janeiro and Sao Paulo. After a visit to Japan, 
he decided to start making music with his 
GameBoy. Kassin and his studio partner, 
Berna, have created a world of broken beats, 
white noise, samples and lo-fi pop. Free USA 
is their best release yet. 
Ana Garcia 



Bird Show 



Lightning Ghost (Kranky) 

Sometimes it seems like all I write about is 
birds and ghosts and weather conditions 
but in the absence of a Plan B nature section, 
of which Bird Show's Ben Vida can be guest 
editor anytime, I see no reason to stop. 
Lightning (j/70sf takes last year's debut, 
Green Inferno, adds yet more Fifth World 
percussion; and folds delightfully, delicately 
and microscosmically inward to reveal nine 
bewitching miniatures of organic/synthetic/ 
absolute beauty. 

'Seeds' softens the high-end mayhem 
of Sunroof ! 's best shimmer-moments and 
revs up the pastoral klang of Cluster's late- 
Seventies album Sowiesosolo a gentle 
frenzy that ripples the frontal lobes most 
pleasurably, before falling into a fizzing 
analogue hot-spring that gives off an 
almost unbearable light ('First Path 
Through'). Soft, steady vocals, reedy 
Middle Eastern pipes and spiralling 
melodic patterns guide the listener through 
some instinctual and gorgeous sonic 
experimentation, and into a space where 
spiders spin webs from saz strings, stick 
insects play mbiras by moonlight and 
Bismillah Khan jams with Hototogisu 
on a stage lit by a million glow-worms. 
Frances May Morgan 



Black Heart Procession 



The Spell (Touch And Go) 

It's a pretty fair bet that a sonic alloy 
called The Black Heart Procession will track 
a forlorn aural artery. 

And it's a pretty fair bet that the fifth 
album from these dark-kernelled San 
Diegoan brooders -aptly entitled The Spell 
- will cast magic and shadows with its 
hearse-paced serenades: hence spectral 
dirge 'Waiter #5', and funereal jive 'The 
Letter', come as little surprise. 

But while this particular Procession is 
more pedestrian gloom than bacchanalian 



80 1 plan b 



ran-dan, there's room for jubilation from 
these sometime members of Three IVIile 
Pilot and Modest Mouse. Not least in the 
thundering chamber pop of 'Not Just Words' 
- it's a veritable anthem, and shockingly 
euphoric: now who'd have guessed the 
odds on that? 
Nicola Meighan 



Black Ox Orkestar 



Nisht Azoy (Constellation) 

A sad song is a sad song - you know it 
because you feel it. And sometimes not 
entirely understanding the lyrics or musical 
tradition only heightens the melancholy. 
Without question, Nisht Azoy \sfu\\ of 
heartbreakers. The second album from 
Black Ox Orkestar - a collective that includes 
members of Godspeed You ! Black Emperor 
and Silver Mt Zion - continue to explore 
the European Jewish folk sound, putting 
a modern, vital spin on traditional 
arrangements and producing some original 
compositions to sit alongside them. 

Nisht Azoy\s compelling, heavy-hitting 
and sombre as hell. 
Natalie Moore 



Boduf Songs 



Boduf Songs (Kranky) 

Boduf Songs' press materials complain of an 
overdose of vanilla singer-songwriters, but 
to be honest I'm reaching my limit on these 
weirdo folksters too, yeah me who spends 
my Mondays listening to Joanna Newsom 
and eating honey sandwiches. 

Boduf Songs starts with 'Puke A Pitch 
Black Rainbow To The Sun' which is about, 
well, that. But to be honest, the finest 
moments are when Mat Sweet is more Elliott 
Smith than Alexander Tucker: when I can 
swim with his doubled voice and drift back 
and forth as the guitars flow. 
Sean Michaels 



Booka Shade 



Movements (Get Physical) 

It's an early morning in the mid-Nineties 
and two guys are standing in the middle 
of Sven Vath's Frankfurt club The Omen 
coming down to some trance track and 
a girl approaches them and offers them 
mandarines. They believe she's an angel. 
Around a decade later, they try to recreate 
that moment on record. 

Result? 'Mandarine Girl', last year's 
minimal anthem seemingly composed from 
little more than air currents and an echo 
chamber. Then there's 'Body Language', 
which achieved the same result from a bank 
of fingerprints; it reappears here as an 
endless cock-tease, tantalising mercilessly 
before exploding gloriously into That Riff. 

Booka Shade's bangers give you exactly 
what you want, but not how you expect 
it: they're fragile, always on the brink of 
dissolution, beats dropping out for so 
long that you end up hanging onto your 
high by a thread, before they slam home 
triumphantly with irresistibly, intricately 
textured melodies. They're simultaneously 
minimal and full of details: 'Darko' is 
expansive and monolithic, skyscraper-high 
synths metamorphosing into a micro-disco 
bassline downloaded straight from Vitalic's 
veins, while 'Pong Pang' is built on a tension 
between clicking, clattering Dominik Eulberg 
percussion and rampaging acid riffs which 
finally and spectacularly come together. 
Alex Macpherson 







'^F -^^^^ 



ghost world 

Words: Frances May Morgan 

Illustration: Booi 

I swear this house is full of ghosts 
when you're not around. Not proper 
ghosts with grating bones and see- 
through skin, more just objects with 
mischievous souls. Four-track, 
teapot, notebook, curtain, radiator, 
half-open door: days when I'm alone 
I can hearthem whispering and 
catch their eyes from the corner of 
mine, and it's OK, I like itjustfine. 

Me and the ghosts, we've been 
listening to Kyler's Pur Cosy Tales 
(Planet Mu); 32 fittingly wry, spry, 
wyrd digital vignettes. Kyler's 
another name for Henry Collins, 
which is another name for Shitmat, 
whose rib-rattling breakcore and 
shouting is linked to this electronic 
pastoral only by a peculiarly British 
humour, and by the impression of 
the artist as an inveterate tinkerer 
with a short attention span. Here, 
Collins flickers from sound to sound 
with an air of dissatisfaction that 
nonetheless adds up to almost- 
satisfaction for the listener. 

Pur Cosy Tales sounds like laptops 
in potting sheds under flat fenland 
skies. It's music from the green belt: 
nature held in check. There are 
recorders, cars, music boxes, guitars, 
chimneys, phone masts, joyrides, 
mud, fog, lawns, Casios, motorways 
and power surges. There's one track 
that pits an old folk-singing man 
against some beats like some arch, 
glitch version of that lame Lemon 
Jelly song about the ducks, which 
drives me to The Gasman's fourth 
album. This One's For You (Planet 



Mu) in search of more abstract, 
skeletal structures. And I find them, 
too: an hour of scuttling avant- 
techno and drum'n'bass as heard 
through tracing paper or stretched 
thin as moth wings. Portsmouth 
native Christopher Reeves makes 
frenetic music that feels sleepy, like 
an insomniac's nervous energy. Even 
as you listen to it. This One's For You 
feels past, gone and distant, and 
your head feels separate from your 
body and it's time to move before 
you, too, become part of the ghost 
furniture, your eyes all dusty corners 
and your mouth all crooked borders. 

I seize the new Johannes Heil, 
Freaks R Us (Klang Elektronik), but 
its two-fingered android-techno is 
also beautifully lifeless. The most it 
offers is a kind of zombie forward 
motion: hell-bent on murder, and 
it feels good. Heil, prolific producer 
and longtime purveyor of brutal, 
sleazy beats, has hewn together 
a wonderfully ugly beast, and at 
first I am content to be among the 
undead who follow it. But by 'Tree 
Of Life', with its villainous vocal 
{"Now. .. Start Agaaaiiiiinnnn-ah!"), 
the cat is crouching on the floor, 
yowling for attention. This, she says, 
is the kind of techno that people 
who hate techno use as an example 
of why they hate techno. I'm 
shocked. I say. But you like techno! 
You're a cat- all cats like techno! 

Then I feed her some cheese, for 
she is quite right. 

Time to re-engage. I move to 
the silences - the pauses for breath 
that punctuate Matthew Dear's 
'Send You Back' on the Ghostly 
International comp Idol Tryouts 



Two are as alive as the taut beats and 
suction bass. Everything feels equal; 
all sounds and non-sounds are 
necessary to the existence of this 
threatening, shivery obsesso-disco. 

Ghostly music makes me feel 
alive. Disc One (Avant-Pop) is tactile 
stuff. Solvent's cute pop and Daniel 
Wang's zippy, pristine electro-house 
('Berlin Sunrise', pulling disco cliches 
of its shiny pants like a string of 
magic hankies) slap a brand-new 
coat of gloss paint upon the day, 
gleaming and heady. Kill Memory 
Crash and Charles Maniershow 
where electroclash could have gone 
if it hadn't gone shit, and the only 



All cats 
like techno! 



low note is sounded by 'Electronic 
Piano', Mobius Band's sorrowful 
indie-pop turn halfway through. 
Ghostly's eclecticism is amply 
demonstrated without having 
to show that they can do 'total 
downer' as well. 

Disc Two (SSM) is an imaginative, 
many-textured take on the ambient 
genre, incorporating Greg Davis's 
minimalist loop-folk and Kiln and 
Cepia's comfortingly organic glitches 
and tones as well as more obvious 
choices such as Terre Thaemlitz. 
The ghosts shift and mutter, and 
then turn over, fall back to sleep. 
This is music for their- and my- 
night-time, pillowy and billowy 
and warm. I think I will save itfor 
later, when the only trains going 
by are the ones that say 'Maersk' on 
the side. 



plan b 1 81 



albums 




pop music 

Words: Alex Macpherson 
Illustration: Robert Ramsden 

Ellen Allien & Apparat 

Orchestra Of Bubbles (Bpitch Control) 

He's the co-owner of Shitkatapult. She's the Bpitch 
Control matriarch. He's made his name by melting down 
glitchy post-IDM experiments and gorgeous, swooning 
microhouse, with the resultant genius best expressed 
on 2005's Silizium EP. She's delivered a series of 
increasingly forward-thinking techno releases culminating 
in last year's incredible Thrills, which have placed her at 
the forefront of the most exciting scene on the planet 
right now. Together, Ellen Allien and Sascha Ring, aka 
Apparat, are able to draw on resources and power and 
ludicrous amounts of creative talent to push things 
forward yet another step. It's momentous. 

The fearlessness of it all 
is beautiful 

This album is propelled by vast amounts of open- 
ended creative tension: Allien and Ring took turns in 
adding layers to each track, rather like solving a puzzle 
or possibly playing chess, with no idea where they'd end 
up. Some tracks are more obviously aligned with one 
over the other: 'Edison', with its filament-thin twangs 
of sound, is very much Ring's baby, while 'Turbo Dreams' 
carries on where Thrills left off, Allien's trademark 
ARP synths peaking and peaking and peaking over 
a no-nonsense 4/4 pulse. But though every song pulls 
first towards one pole and then the other, there's no 
awkwardness: whisper-subtle details are seamlessly 
integrated into the overwhelming dancefloor imperative. 



'Jet', for example, begins fuzzy, dicky and cosy like 
Sunday morning, but at some point you never quite 
notice takes off, unravelling its glitchy knots and tangles 
and blossoming into aureolae of James Holden-style 
minimalist bliss. 'Way Out', too: four astounding, brazenly 
anthemic minutes during which Allien essays her most 
spectacular vocal performance to date, replacing her 
usual Sprechgesang with full-blooded, light-headed 
house diva belting. 

And then 'Retina', chamber music for a chamber of 
horrors: psychotic stabs of cello coming at one ear and 
then the other, much closer than you think, and 
underpinned by a demented rhythm which, flitting 
between time signatures at random, can't decide whether 
it's a broken beat or a sped-up amphetamine heartbeat. 

It's not just each other's sounds that Allien and Ring 
are opening themselves up to. The defining characteristic 
thus far setting Bpitch Control apart from other labels 
producing the cream of dance music in 2006 (Get 
Physical, Kompakt, Border Community, Areal) has been 
versatility and variety rather than refinement of a distinct 
aesthetic. Most revelatory on Orchestra Of Bubbles is 
'Metric', with its fascination for the still-thrilling, still- 
evolving sonic palette of grime. It's already been hinted 
at on Allien's label - the latest Modeselektor EP features 
an anonymous grime remix of 'Silikon' - and with its 
knife-sharp Hitchcock strings and sub-woofer bass, 
'Metric' slots neatly alongside the work of London 
producers such as DaVinche and Wonder, and begs for 
Riko or No Lay to set down some verses over the top. 

The fearlessness of it all is beautiful: Allien and Ring 
seize new ideas and run with them, bending them to 
suit their purposes and always ready to swerve off in 
unknown directions if the mood takes them. Take a ride 
with these amazing people. 



Pink (Southern Lord) 

With each successive release, Boris have 
taken radical twist and turns with their 
mighty dronecore sloth-rock, to a point 
where the noisiness of their records is 
designated by whether their name is 
capitalised on the cover or not. The insane 
rock albums get BORIS, while the avant- 
drone records see the lower case band 
making an outing. Pink, then, is something 
of a bOrlS release. For the first time, they 
revisit some of the various angles they've 
attempted before and mesh them together. 
The result is staggering: utterly vast and 
epic, yet garage-y, sleazy and raucous. 
The Corpo 



Boyracer 



Punch Up The Bracket (555) ^ 

On this, their eighth LP, Leeds' Boyracer 
continue to blow up bubblegum like 
hardcore punks who know their explosives 
like they know their pop. The majority of 
these 2 1 fiery tracks burn out after the one- 
minute mark. It all packs a modern punch, 
crunchier than dry cereal with a buzz louder 
than bug zappers. High-powered guitars 
bleed like they took a bullhorn in the spleen 
and ill-tempered drums clatter among all 
the devilish debris. The overall recording 
is the sound of breaking glass, particularly 
when the needles hit red (which is often). 
It's a total assault on the hearing. I can't stop 
listening to it. Makes my ears hurt good. 
Shane Moritz 



Boysetsf ire 



The Misery Index (Burning Heart) _^ 

There was a compellingly raw crunch 
between the emo exorcisms and outright 
political outrage of early Boysetsfire, which 
made it the best fodder for maladjusted 
adrenaline. And somehow it's been polished 
over, set in rock form rather than built on 
formal incongruity. Too professional, no 
longer young, nevertheless The Misery 
lndex\s energetic, enraged, and listenable. 
Melissa Bradshaw 



Tom Brosseau 



Empty Houses Are Lonely (Fatcat) J 

Dakota-raised, LA- dwelling Brosseau's 
gonzoid-sweet storytelling voice swoops 
and keens like a backwoods Buckley cousin 
throughout this recording. These faltering 
and awesomely fragile half-songs trample 
across conventions and 'structures' in a stop- 
start lurch. From minimal, crystalline oddball- 
angular picking ('Mary Annie'), to warm and 
rolling harmonica-folk ('Dark Garage'), this 
is an instant revelation. 
James Papademetrie 



Cannonball Jane 



Street Vernacular (Fortuna Pop) | 

Street Vernacularls quirky, infectious Pop 
beamed in from the candy clouds of Fox 
Base Alpha. Made by a New York elementary 
school music teacher, this is the sound of 
a world where the Honeys meet hip hop 
and electropop, and man, that's a world 
I want to live in. With its bedroom aesthetic 
and upbeat dance Pop, this also makes 
me think of the glorious Sophie & Peter 
Johnston, one great lost Pop acts of the late 
Eighties. Their eponymous 1 988 set must 
be ripe for a salvage operation. Meanwhile, 
treatyourselfto Cannonball Jane. 
AlistairFitchett 



82 I plan b 



REMASTERED 
SONIC HISTbRY 






SaNIC'YOUTH 





Sonic Youth - SONIC YOUTH 

SONIC YOUTH'S DEBUT ALBUM INCLUDES 

8 UNRELEASED BONUS TRACKS ;, \ 

TRACKS: 

The Remastered Original Record: 

1 . Burning Spear 2. I Dreamed I Dream 3. She Is Not Alon 

4. I Don't Wpnt To Push It 5. The Good And The Pad 

Early Live (September 18, 1981): j j i||» 
6. Hard Work 7. Where The Red Fern GroWs f 
8. Burning Spear 9. Cosmopolitan Girl 10. Loud And Soft 
" 1 1 4 Destroyer 1 2. She Is Not Alone 

Early Studio (October, 1 981 ): ^ 

13. Where The Red Fern Grows f ' 



Ciccone Vouth (Sonic Youth) - WHiTEY ALBUM^ 

SONIC YOUTH'S 1980s ALTER EGO POP 
EXPERIMENT FEATURES^ MASCIS & MIKE WATT 
AND INCLUDES ONE BONUS TRACK I i kT i 



i 4T /i)5 



TRACKS: 

1. Needle-Gun 2. (silence) 3. (3-Force 4. Platopn II 5. MacBeth 

6. Me & Jill/Hendrix Cosby 7. BurnIn' Up 8. Hi! Everybody 

9. Children Of Satan/Third Fig 10. Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening 

To Neu 11. Addicted To Love 12. Moby-Dik 13. March Of The 



Ciccone Robots 14. Making The Nature Scene 15. Tuff Titty Rap 

16. Into The G^oovey 17. MacBeth (Alt. Mix) [3onus Tracl|]j^>tti| , 




albums 









vN V « 



Neko Case 



Fox Confessor Brings The Flood 
(Anti/Epitaph) 

Her voice is like a billowing sail, a tattered 
flag, a red dress, a pillow fight. 

There was always a vague injustice 
about the deification accorded to Chan 
Marshall, which seemed to put Neko Case 

- arriving on the scene at roughly the same 
time, playing the same-ish music, at a point 
where women songwriters of this kind 
seemed slightly unfashionable - in Cat 
Power's shade. 

Maybe it was due to the lack of 
tantalising biography in her songs, the 
absence of voyeur-inducing instability in her 
character. Maybe that makes the sheer gale- 
force gorgeousness of her music - her voice 

- less palatable, or less 'authentic' to some. 

Instead, her sideline in Vancouver 
ijbergroup The New Pornographers seems 
to have superseded her own solo career. 
The New Pornographers are 1 ,000 per cent 
full-on whirling-harmony firecracker-sharp 
joycore. If you had to pick one word to 
describe them it would be: 'spangly'. 

But this album is the colour of red wine 
and sunset. It's a reminder in the strengths of 
solitude, singing and strength itself. Neko's 
handsome voice blows her delicately-chosen 
words into balloons and thought bubbles 
that float away on the breath of huge, 
soul-emptying sighs. 

Don't forget about her. 
David IVIcNamee 



\vv 



Casiotone For The Painfully 
Alone 



Etiquette (Tomlab) 

There's no lonelier instrument than a cheap 
plastic Casio, and just the mental image of 
this grown man in his dark blue jeans and 
bushy beard bending over this tiny toy 
keyboard on the kitchen floor fills us with 
sadness. Etiquette is the last thing you need 
when you are on the floor. The songs that 
come out of those nocturnal encounters are 
wonderful fragments of fiction about half- 
missed opportunities and forgotten moments 
of happiness, the friends you had and lost, 
the sweet sorrow of getting older and getting 
on with life. The fact that these stories are 
told against a background of repetitive, 
slightly infantile, lo-fi drum machines and 
little trashy synths makes the lyrics pierce the 
heart even more violently. Heartache is easy 
to swallow when it is wrapped in soothing 
alt country guitars and harmonies, but when 
you toss it, still bleeding, into a dodgy euro- 
trance disco in Amsterdam, the result is 
unbearably tragic beauty. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



Colossal Yes 



Acapuico Roughs (Bad A Bing!) 

One of Comets On Fire plays piano pop 
songs. Sounds like Flaming Lips immersed 
in a bathtub full of liquid Valium. Sounds 
like Paul McCartney caught in the middle of 
a 24-hour marathon viewing session of City 
Of Angels. Sounds like he grew up siding 



interstellar overdrive 

Words: Nicola Meighan 

Illustration: Simon Peplow 

Quasi 

When The Going Gets Dark (Domino) 

He is a lion and he is raging. He is yellow, orange; firing out of a boombox: 
paws akimbo, jaws agape, tail ablaze. He's the cover star of improv 
psych-rockers Quasi's seventh album, When The Going Gets Darl<- 
and he's a savage delineation of the Portland, Oregon duo's hazy, hairy, 
rambling valour. 

One part Sleater-Kinney (Janet Weiss on vocals and thunder-and-lightning 
drums) and one part Blues Goblin/Pink Mountain/Motorgoat (Sam Coomes 
on vocals and riffs and Joanna), Quasi's raw, marauding ocelot has unleashed 
rough-hewn shambling rock'n'roll since the early Nineties. 

Evoking Mercury Rev, The Zombies, Black Sabbath and Neil Young, When 
The Going Gets Daria is packed with shaggy arias and spangling jams and 

An existential serenade 

noodling blues and cosmic pop. But it's not all grizzly wig-outs and Zeppelin 
big love: 'Presto Change-0' assaults angular stadium-prog, 'I Don't Know You 
Any More' explores skewed college radio indie, while 'Merry X-Mas' embraces 
loose piano jazz and down home distortion. 

Whereas the feverish deuce's preceding endeavour, 2003's l-iotShit, 
discharged a barbed and transparent attack on Rumsfeld, Bush, Blair and co, 
Quasi's latest missive is more universal: instead of explicitly pointing the finger, 
it looks outward: at oceans, the sky and the stars. 

When The Going Gets Dar/c's myriad astral cantatas are embellished by 
Dave Friddman (Mercury Rev/Flaming Lips), whose kaleidoscopic, swirling 
amulets propel Quasi's underlying sentiments: "There ain't no here/There 
ain't no there/ Just sweet nowhere/ Everywhere," they harmoniously spiral on 
post-apocalyptic, interstellar lullaby 'Beyond The Sky'; its heavenly conviction 
echoed on the skirmishing jangle of 'Poverty Sucks' {"Drifting down/The river 
of cars/I saw your name/Written up in the stars"), and on the drum-tumbling, 
voluminous title track: "I might wander one day/Across the Milky Way". 

But it's the album's celestial epilogue, 'Invisible Star' - an interplanetary 
ballad lovingly mauled by a farcical hair-guitar sprawl and preposterous 
'Whiter Shade Of Pale' refrain - that most avidly suggests that we reassess 
Quasi: they revoke their customary swathe of doomsday outpouring in favour 
of a life-affirming, existential serenade. 

It makes us realise that maybe -just maybe - their leonine cover star is not 
angry. He is bounding to embrace us. And he is smiling. 



with Jim O'Rourke, that prog was never 
a four-letter word, and that it's OK to use 
flutes and flowery innagery. Could be right. 
Songs like 'O'Crocus Shall Be Raised' are 
lush and sprawling, beguiling; like Plush or 
The Webb Brothers or one of those winsome 
Chicago sorts. Yeah. Nice. 
Everett True 



The Concretes 



Colours (EMI) 

Kicking off an album with a piano riff right 
outta 'Daydream Believer' should tell you 
a lot about a band: that they are knowingly 
in thrall to the magic of Pop; that they 
understand the importance of looking back 
in wonder and of never standing still. With 
sugar-coated melodies encrusted in diamond 
tears, The Concretes have again made 
marvellous Pop Art. It is the sound of Super-8 
for the iMovie generation; the artful collision 
between gaudy confidence and head-in- 
hands shyness; the sound of the raggedly 
beautiful people running to hide out in the 
dunes, burdened by haunting visions of 
improbable rejection and a knowledge 
of beauty too pure to survive. 
Alistair Fitchett 



Graham Coxon 



Love Travels At Illegal Speeds 
(Parlophone) 

While we still get to hear Blur becoming 
increasingly sophisticated with every record, 
plus their fun side projects like Goriliaz, we 



also get to hear Coxo slamming out a cracker 
every couple of years. Like the last one, this 
album's rammo with guitar-melting blurs like 
'I Can't Look At Your Skin', reassuring geek- 
anthems like 'Just A State Of Mine' and the 
kind of strap-yourself-in mentality that great 
guitar pop should always have. 
Jamie Fullerton 



Dat Politics 



Wow Twist (Chicks On Speed) 

Here's what I love: Chicks On Speed Records. 
Everything on the imprint sounds either like 
the Chicks' post-1 979 blueprint, a much 
tinnier, electronic version of Huggy Bear, 
or is fucked-up spoken-word shit. Dat Politics 
are the first two combined, only way more 
playful, vaguely Japanese or Germanic 
sounding, loveable in their Casiotone-led 
punk/powerpop disco, and too bouncy to 
stick around on any groove for long. 'Viper 
Eyes' and the dislocated freestyle rap of 
'Roll' are like lo-fi Europop distilled to the 
ultimate degree. This is the French trio's 
third album, and man it makes me glad. 
Everett True 



Push The Heart (Bella Union) 

The flurrying of pianos underscores this 
entire collection. It's a beautiful body of 
work that feels like the declaration of a new 
day, as vocalist Sara Lov coos and croons, 
blanketing the heart. At times it sounds 
like The Cardigans, if they'd inherited vast 



84 1 plan b 



albums 



expanses of the Mid-West, and were lulling 
their live stock to sleep. 

Completely enchanting. 
Jonathan Falcone 



Diskaholics Anonymous 



Weapons Of Ass Destruction ^^^^ 
(Smalltown Superjazz) ^^^B 

Diskaholics Anonymous are Jim O'Rourke, 
Thurston Moore and Mats Gustafsson 
making noise together using a guitar, 
saxophone and laptop. These are heavily 
extended versions of miniature experiments, 
sound collages that might seem indulgent 
and irrelevant without patience. Moore's 
recognisable guitar wails and drudges are 
offset by Gustafsson's saxophone in the 
same way that nine vultures offset each 
other while feeding on a zebra carcass. 
Except we're not in Kenya listening to Chris 
Watson's binaural mics, although it's that 
kind of communal intuitive dark noise. 
O'Rourke's digital veils provide the shifting 
landscape-canvas for the satiated battle 
cries. His delicate whirrs wrap and intervene 
in the procession, discreetly scurrying off 
with the marrow remains. 
Miranda lossifidis 



The Dresden Dolls 



Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner) 

It shouldn't work: A Clockwork Orange 
imagery meets Liza Minnelli's Cabarety\a 
the custard pie-slinging of BugsyMalone 
and some riotous glam rock, and the seedy 
backstreet clubs of Berlin. Piano runs 
rampant, a fiercely expressive female voice 
questions and cajoles and expresses fear 
and wonder and orgasmic delight, while 
the silent male thumps drums, an art unto 
itself. Half the time, Dresden Dolls sound like 
Dexter Fletcher tackling the soundtrack to 
Hazel O'Connor's woefully misjudged punk 
opera Breaking Glass- and the other half 
like wrongly forgotten romantics Band Of 
Holy Joy (and there's more than a muscle 
of Marc Almond in there too). I was singing 
along with every track on this, the Boston 
duo's second album, within seconds 
-it's that obvious. 

And yet I know that I'll be returning to 
this theatre of the absurd long after hipper, 
more venerated bands have been consigned 
to the bin marked 2006. It's fucking brilliant. 
Everett True 



Drowsy 



Snow On Moss On Stone (Fatcat) 

Deep in the Finnish countryside, near the 
village of Joutseno, stands the Home For 
The Heavily Influenced. In a remote corner 
of this ramshackle warren, in a room marked 
'Drowsy', young Mauri Heikkinen struggles 
alone with his guitar, his personality and his 
many inspirations. 

Brave Mauri receives few visitors but 
if you were to stand outside his room you 
would hear the battle being waged in 
his soul, here in this institution for the 
transparently indebted. Even the most hard- 
hearted would surely be moved to hear this 
lad raise his guitar to play a ditty called 
'Treehouse,' only for the spirit of Syd Barrett 
to shoulder its way into the room to steal the 
limelight; or, in the opening moments of 'Go 
Well,' a gentle ballad, to hear Nick Drake's 
ghoulish presence trample all over Mauri's 
attempts to break free of history. The doctors 
fear he may never fully recover. 
Daniel Spicer 






'it Xd^u.Uu .11** 




V, 









headmistress ritual 

Words: David McNamee 
Illustration: Marcus Oakley 

mclusky 

mcluskyism (Too Pure) 

"Originally conceived (c. 1999) as the first victim- 
friendly surface-to-air missile by the US military, 
mclusky are a band of three, like back when three 
meant three and wasn't some crazy potsdamic in- 
universal code for four, mclusky's idea of a keyboard 
player is the man(?) who invented computer 
battleships. All DJs must be French. " 

- biog from the discontinued mclusky.net 

Mygod, they were a wonderful band. 

Leftie-hating, Sun-reading Marxist-hedonist 
intellectuals, mclusky dealt with the big issues in 
life: shit bands, shit backwards towns with their 
shitcliques, shit cunts in shit Wales. Probably too 
haunted by their own genius to be able to articulate 
it in any kind of constructive way, they should have 
written great works (probably a kind of Culture 
& Soc/ety-meets-Wz), but instead Andy 'Faico' 
Falkous and Jon Chappie spat out flabbergasted 
and incredulous petulant playground pop which 
increasingly became buckled and distressed with 
the sheer pressure of ideas and seething (internal?) 
resentment, until it eventually resembled a kind of 
molten, metallic reversioning of rock -controlled 
and brittle and impossible to second-guess. 

mclusky may have slipped out just three albums 
in their frustratingly short lifespan, to a defiantly 
cloth-eared public, but my iPod is currently clinging 
on to around 1 50 demos, B-sides and unreleased 
tracks like its very survival depends on it. The cream 
of these are included on this three-disc singles/ 
B-sides/other comp, although there are some glaring 
omissions - most notably, the re-recorded version 
of 'Friends Stoning Friends', their cruise missile- 
with-shark fins attack on provincial scenesterism. 

It's worth noting here that, in retrospect, 
comparisons to punk are largely unfounded. 
People said they were like the Pixies, but they 




If I could make a noise, 
it would be this noise 



were probably more like The Auteurs. This is 
supremely intelligent noise rock, where not a note is 
wasted, where concepts and intentions have been 
revised and rethunkso intensely that, by the time of 
completion, they make no sense to anyone any more 
except their creators. These songs contain layers and 
layers of in-jokes built into a whole new syntax, an 
impregnable code with which to viciously parody 
their peers and to provide a whole universe of 
juvenile amusement for their grown-up heads. 

When mclusky announced their split in January 
2005, those of us in the know angrily questioned 
why they were never fuck-off huge. Producer Albini 
got it right when he claimed that, truthfully, they 
probably reached their maximum audience. The 
truth is, there was nothing mclusky could do to 
change music or become icons, their mission was 
simply to be themselves as hard as they possibly 
could. And I promise you, if I could make a noise 
- with not a note changed, it would be this noise. 

This is pop music for people who want more 
rope and razor wire in their pop, made by people 
who have patently never heard pop music. 

Intrigued? Get the jet-pack punk-pop of 
mclusky do da //as (2002), chance the shape-shifting, 
distorted the difference between me and you 
is that I'm not on fire (2004), and try a cursory 
listen of patchy but promising demo-debut 
mypainandsadnessismoresadandplayfulthanyours 
(1 999) before tackling this. 

Athrilling, charismatic live band, if you missed 
them then console yourself with Chappie's new, 
ace Shooting At Unarmed Men ('random celebrity 
insult generator', included here, is the exact point 
at which the SAUM template crystallised), Falco's 
forthcoming alliance with Welsh rockers Jarcrew 
and the wickedly funny 2004 live set on disc three 
of mcluskyism. 



plan b 1 85 



albums 




streets behind 

Words: Ringo P Stacey 

Illustration: Daryl Waller 

The Streets 

The Hardest Way To Make An Easy 
Living (679) 

Lately I think I've been having 
chavtastic dreams. Wannabe 
carbons of Chantelle Houghton, 
Kerry Katona and Ian Beale in 
a council flat, surrounded by cheap 
Asda profiteroles and a bowl of 



snorts endless lines of nose candy, 
fucks all the fit birds he can handle. 
Who wouldn't? 

People call him a rapper, but 
I don't think he's that good at 
rapping atall. I prefer his singing. 
What I like is the bit on 'When You 
Wasn't Famous' where he tries to 
hit a really high note and his voice 
cracks. In that moment I'm rooting 
for him like I always did before. 

There's some other good bits, 
too. Like the last track, 'Fake Streets 



Mike Skinner ain^t like us any more 



primo Welsh mushrooms. We're 
listening to The Streets. 

And y'know what? The funny 
thing about that Mike Skinner is 
that he ain't like us anymore. He 
moves in different circles, goes 
off on tour for months and does 
different drugs. I still give respect 
to the man, though, he still talks 
straight. He smashes up hotel rooms. 



Hats'. It's got a great tune, paranoid 
trippy, the way the keyboarded 
pseudo-flute melody stops for 
crowds samples and the intoxicated 
ramblings of Skinner complaining 
that a band member's "Fucking 
putting moistu riser on ". 

But, yeah, apart from those 
moments the album's a bit crap. 
Don't get me wrong, I love the music. 



Skinner's one of the best producers 
working in British pop, and this is him 
as zoned in as he's ever been. For the 
relentless, pummelling, disjointed 
and, yes, grimey beats of 'Pranging 
Out', 'War Of The Sexes' and 'Hotel 
Expressionism' alone, this could be 
the best album he's done. 

It's just the way he always carries 
on like he knows everything. He's like 
the geezer next door who's been 
conned into buying a complete set 
of Encyclopaedia Britannica on hire 
purchase. Suddenly he's a walking 
fountain of knowledge, but it's all 
superficial. A string of catchy cliches; 
"Men just lianl<er forpanky to 
happen "; "Momento mori is Latin 
and it says we must all die". 

Or 'Can't Con An Honest John', 
his guide to ripping people off. In 
that one, he gives the game away. I 
think he knows he's being boring cos 
he says, "keep listening, though, it's 
important that you keep listening", 
and he sounds a bit desperate. 



Paul Duncan 



Be Careful What You Call Home 
(Hometapes) 

Just as you settle down comfortably into 
this album, Paul Duncan surprises you 
with introspective sonic exploration, 
and the promise of a hummable chorus is 
replaced with a heinous stuck CD-player 
noise. When some of the simpler tracks 
are so beautiful - in a lo-fi Nick Drake 
kind of way -the unexpected and sudden 
forays into experimentalism are frankly 
rather frustrating. 

What he's got is lovely; when he tries to 
mix it with electronics, it sounds half-baked. 
Beautiful artwork, mind. 
Tess Andrews 



VoffVoff (Rotator) 

Experimental music should always be fun. 
It surprises me how people who basically 
dick around making cool noises can take 
themselves so seriously. This is what is so 
great about Iceland's Eberg, one incredibly 
talented producer and handsome elf; the 
lyrics of the first song here ('Love Your Bum') 
are entirely made up of slogans from toilet- 
roll packaging, and the track itself meanders 
between Air and acid house. Eberg has his 
tender side, too, as on the beautiful 'Sober 
In June'. And then there's 'Fun Anyway', 
which develops from a lovely piano intro to 
full-on, delirious My Bloody Valentine noise. 
Robin Wilks 



Jimmy Edgar 



Color Strip (Warp) 

Damn it, I really really wanted to be into 
the whole Jimmy Edgarthing. I mean, 
futurist electro meets r'n'b? That's like Claro 
Intellecto's synth projections pairing up with 
R Kelly's monomaniacal need for booty in 
a closet, opening up the doors and singing 
all the parts! 

This, however, is sadly, frustratingly, 
disappointing. All of the good tracks 
(including the genius 'I Wanna Be Your 
STD') have already been released on the 
'Bounce Make Model' EP. Color Strip, by 
comparison, feels like filler strip, complete 
with Jimmy giving us a self-indulgent 
hoo-ha about his beats ('My Beats, My 



Beats'). I hope he's referring to a particularly 
select group of vegetables he's nurtured in 
his Detroit allotment - otherwise, this just 
ain't tasty. 
Ralph Cowling 



Nathan Fake 



Drowning In A Sea Of Love 

(Border Community) J 

Maybe we shouldn't have expected so 
much. Maybe we should have noted that 
the dancefloor anthems building Nathan 
Fake's reputation all had the word 'remix' 
somewhere in the title - 'The Sky Was Pink 
(James Holden remix)'; 'Coheed (Michael 
Mayer remix)'; 'Dinamo (Dominik Eulberg 
remix)'. Drowning In A Sea Of Love, from 
the title down, is disgustingly twee. It's 
reminiscent of the equally useless M83, who 
also have a history of having their boring 
synth-prog being remixed into greatness. 

Fake occasionally touches upon 
interesting ideas and sounds with 
tremendous lift-off potential, but never 
develops them beyond a sludge of dull 
tastefulness. It's the kid's first album, and 
he'll surely produce better in the future when 
he gets over the whole Boards Of Canada 
thing. For now, the silver lining is that the 
ideas he doesn't quite follow through bravely 
enough here still make superlative remix 
fodder. As well as the aforementioned 
Holden monster, a Drowning In A Sea 
Of Remixes EP has also emerged, with 
Apparat's away-with-the-fairies toytown 
take on 'Charlie's House' of particular note. 
Alex Macpherson 



Feu Therese 



Feu Therese (Constellation) ] 

Montreal's Feu Therese are a kind of a Gallic 
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, soaring 
through a limitless atmosphere of timeless 
whirring and spectral blood red splashes. 
Landscapes become unstable, musical 
genres filter and groan. Electronics flutter 
through guitars, voices offer phantom 
promises; there is a tough pace for what 
should be merely soothing imaginings. 

Pretty much proving alone that post- 
punk and space-rock aren't incompatible 
bedfellows, Feu Therese know precisely 
where the borders begin and end, but 
aren't about to reveal their secrets any 
time soon. 
Stewart Gardiner 



Adam Green 



Jacket Full Of Danger (Rough Trade) 

Well, what a disturbing balance between 
pre-war polka dot innocence and, er, 
fluorescent porn this is. Sparkling uprights, 
glossy strings ('Hollywood Bowl') and 
delicious pastes of dreams ('Cast A Shadow') 
are violated by suave enunciations 
concerning crack factories and spleen- 
bashing yelps of "I LIKE! TO LINGER UN 
THE ALLEYWAY!" 

There are Cadillacs and sweet ditties 
about watching movies under stars. There 
is also a lot of fucking. 

Wreathed in twisted decadence and 
an embroidered dressing-gown, Green is 
ushered into the musical arena by a horny 
Gilbert and Sullivan, surrounded by glittered 
harlequins and probably chopping his ear 
off in a fit of artistic passion like some sort 
of devastatingly intellectual psycho with 
a Bournville voice. The sly bastard. 
Lauren Strain 



86 1 plan b 



Western Shore (Playhouse) 

Having shredded dance floors and 
undergarnnents a few years back with 
the jaw-dropping 'Beau IVIot Plage' 
(included here in its lysergic Latino 
remoulding by Freeform Five), Rajko 
MiJller has since provided us with opulently 
twisted house nnusic. This round up of 
1 2-inches dating back to 1 997 displays 
less of the omnidirectional headfuckery of 
albums Rest and We Are Monster, but the 
hypnotically oddball details to be savoured 
in 'Initiate H' and the epic, queasy 'Lost', 
for instance, exemplify MiJller's shtick as 
one of the most wayward production minds 
working in this or any genre. 
James Papademetrie 



Soft Money (Anticon) 

SoftMoneyl It's gotta be about Fiddy! 
Oh, wait- album goes on - no, this is 
pseudo-political rhetoric-rap about how 
buying stuff is like, wrong, man. Oh, but 
it's Anticon ! So let's forgive the meandering 
attempts to change the modern consumerist 
psyche (campaign me a better world, and 
get rich while trying !), presume that it's 
going to sound like cLOUDDEAD and all 
that mellifluous Boombiperey and, oh, wait 
- album continues- no, this is like a 
watered down sliver of that, drawn out 
from the cenotaph of cheap instrumental 
hip hop. 

Which kind of makes this not-hop. 
Jel- like a puddle, right? 
Ralph Cowling 



Jeniferever 



Choose A Bright Morning ^^^h 
(Drowned In Sound) ^^^H 

Jeniferever are part of the sound of young 
Sweden, but eschew the pursuit of the 
perfect three-minute Pop song approach 
of many of the their peers in favour of 
submerging themselves in gorgeous, 
mesmerising Space Rock. So in place of 
Jonathan Richman and dreams of drumming 
cats, it's early Seefeel and Slowdive that 
are the key reference points here. 

Underpinned by a languid rhythm of 
heartbeat drumming, washed with breathy 
vocals that in places spark with a liquid 
emotion that casts a shadow of the ghost 
of early Prefab Sprout and with a lush fagade 
pierced with sparkling ice guitar shards, 
this is a frosty morning treat that will melt 
your heart. 
AlistairFitchett 



Jeff Klein 



The Hustler (One Little Indian) 

As the protege of Twilight Singers lothario 
Greg Dulli, it's not strange to find Jeff 
Klein inhabiting a similar world of sleep- 
deprived, whisky-drenched introspection. 
His voice is fashioned from sandpaper, 
which adds gravitas to the sensual bluster 
of this album and thanks to additional 
vocals from Dulli, Ani DiFranco and Dave 
Pirner, Klein's Waits-like drawl is saved 
from monotony. 

The songs come from the same pot 
of bad boy derision that Dulli excels at. 
Klein's still got some catching up to do when 
it comes to matching his mentor's blinding 
melodies, but his broken scream on the 
'The Red Lantern' suggest he's learning. 
Lianne Steinberg 




rage against the scene 

Words: Neil Kulkarni 
Illustration: Jussi Brightmoore 

This month, hip hop has been 
exciting my heart and soul. Metal's 
been exciting my cock and my balls. 
And indie rock's been teasing the 
back of my throat like two already- 
sicked-on fingers. 

I blame advertising. Whereas 
hip hop and metal are totally 
shameless about corporate 
sponsorship (and, queerly, are barely 
used in adiand), now that indie's 
been bought up by various 
manufacturers of cheese, printers, 
and automobiles to give whatever 
vague half-baked notion has slid 
like wet faeces from their OHPs 
and whiteboards onto our TV 
screens, I can't listen to anything 
vaguely melodic/American/acoustic/ 
twee/garage rock/self-consciously 
weird without feeling like a web 
entrepreneur is giving me a 
reachround. The ad breaks are 
jammed to busting with limber white 
pretty indie types in overexpensive 
vintage duds cocking doe-eyes at 
mobile phones/cappuccinos/some 
slim hi-tech device, soundtracked by 
some spectacularly well-upholstered 
slice of utter meaninglessness the 
hipsters in marketing have heard is 
cool this week. 

The fucking brassneck on the 
fuckers responsible isn't the 
problem, it's the fact that indie has 
its artistically smug cake and then 
tries to pretend it ain't snarf ling up 
a side-dish of shamolies from the 
corporate trough while you're trying 
not to look. Nah, fuck the current 



fake-modest smarm of indie rock 
- every single lyric I've heard on 
an indie rock album this month 
approaches exactly the same level 
of faux innocence and vague 
profundity of yer average slogan 
for something wireless and shiny 
and low in calories. Indie rock right 
now has found its perfect image 
in those coloured rubber balls 
bouncing down those hills in that 
fucking advert -an utter, utter pretty 
waste of a half-bright notion that 
makes you wanna go out and 
randomly twat someone skinny. 

It can only fail to excite. It's 
designed to lull. 

Metal, however, is currently 
shooting out all kinds of full-fat 
nastiness without reminding me of 
what wireless connection I should be 
upgrading to - dig The Autumn 
Offering's Revelations Of The 
Unsung (Victory), Hatesphere's 
The Sickness Within (SPV), Bal- 
Sagoth's The Chthonic Chronicles 
(Nuclear Blast), Katatonia's The 
Great Cold Distance (Peaceville), 
Madder Mortem's Desiderata 
and Darkthrone's The Cult Is Alive 
(both Century Media), Satyricon's 
Now, Diabolical {RoadRunner) and 
Forever Never's /\por/a (Copro) 
for eight different ways of keeping 
winter here for ever. There are 
enough tangled musical ideas 
(without the benediction of sure 
critical approval) to get engrossed 
in for years, and the sound of 
men being as honestly wretched, 
vile and frightened as they are 
without pretending for one 
single moment that they're 
good eggs really. 



White western male music f'sure, 
and as sexually terrified/aggressive/ 
politically stupid/confused and self- 
piteous as you'd expect. Fucking love 
every moment of it. 

On the f lipside of the race-card 
(which I'm opting to play purely 
cos I'm sick of being told it don't 
matter) hip hop seems to be having 
a fuck of a lot of fun. Spank Rock's 
YoYoYoYoYo (Big Dada), Big 
Boi's You GotPurp \/o/// (Virgin), 
AB/NRML's Props & High Fives 
(Freestyle), Roots Manuva's 



Metal is 
currently 
shooting out 
all kinds of 
full-fat 
nastiness 



Alternately Deep {B\g Dada), 
Underground Exposure's 

Wreckless In Texas (Wolftown), 
Ghostf ace's Fishscale (Def Jam), 
Louis Logic's Blame It On The 
Hooch Vol2 (NA), Ghost's Seldom 
Seen Often /-/earc/(Breakin' Bread) 
are eight million ways to die dancing 
this spring, and if you're wondering 
where to start, first you've gotta get 
your head out your arse and comb 
that fringe outta your face. 

We'll catch up with each other 
in June, after which I'll be submitting 
a full dossier and reporting to 
your superiors. You've already 
disappointed your parents, don't 
disappoint me. 



plan b 1 87 



albums 



switcnDiaae swee 

Words: Everett True 

Illustration: Katie Horan 




Genders 

There's Something In The Treats (Tigerbeat6) 

It's so cool. 

It's so refined. 

It's so. . .poised and elegant and slightly 
unsettling and wayward and post-industrial and 
post-electrocla$h and post-punk and relentless 
and sparse and stupid and Spartan and polished 
and lo-fi and danceable and boy-boy and restless 
and teasing and tasteful and slightlyjarring and 
switchblade sweet. 

It's so subtle. 

It's so Rough Trade, 1 979: we're talking Metal 
Box-era PiL and the frenzied dancefloor patterns 
of This Heat and the burlesque female dance of 
Delta 5 and The Leopards and the alarming post- 
modernist poise of Bristol's own post-Pop Group 



These kids have done their research 



pop group GI*xo Babies and more besides, but 
here's the deal and it's crucial. Detroit's Genders 
- a two-piece, one man is called Jeans and the 
other man Evan and they're face-kissing through 
bloodied surgical masks on this excellent six-track 
EP's cover - have got their influences macro- 
perfect. Not for them a cursory listen to a Gang 
Of Four B-side and a Rapture single then off into 
the studio. Not for them the latest issue of Vice, 
taking on board only the ephemera and none 
of the heart. These kids have done their research. 
This is as fine and sophisticated in its own stripped- 
back, hypnotic way as C.O.C.O's laidback Olympia 
take on the fluid funk patterns of ESG, except 



Genders take early PiL as their blueprint and 
then add in signifiers, losing the obvious vocal 
mannerisms, and place the emphasis on a tinny, 
tricksy Casio beat. 

lt'sso...lifeona plate. 

Sure, there's some ESG in there, too - and 
even a guitar sound at the start of 'Clothesline 
Mimes' that's been lifted still sweating from the 
first Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. 'Bottom Feeders', 
meanwhile, plays spookily to itself like a Space 
Invaders machine left to rot overnight and 
gradually mutates. 

Fuck notions of authenticity or record collector 
rock or revivalist shit. This is ace ! 



The Knife 



Silent Shout (Brille) 

So, it's dark and it's cold and the taxi didn't 
take you home, it brought you here and 
left you. Here in the dark, cold woods. In 
the cold, dark future. So you plug in your 
earphones and start to walk, hoping nothing 
bad is going to happen. Heartbeats pulse 
and cluster through the thin gauze of 
shallow breath. Synths are trennbling. 
Something is approaching, vocoders 
whispering, distorted, a man, a woman, 
or both, or neither: "In the dream I lost my 
teeth again. . . "Synths are arcing up and 
down the scale like the electro-cardiogram 
ofaterminalevent-and you remember that 
the biggest single component of excitement 
is fear. By the end of the song, you're kind 
of enjoying it. By track four, you're dancing 
with animals in a clearing. 
kicking_k 



Ladyfuzz 



Kerfuffle (Transgressive) 

The fact that Ladyfuzz list The Young Knives, 
Futureheads and Bloc Party among their top 



eight friends on MySpace gives you a clue 
to their sound. Yup, this is another spiky, art- 
rock album. Mind you, it's an excellent one 
- Liz Neumayr's Slits-y yelps are much more 
digestible than the twitchy likes of Karen 0, 
plus the tunes that envelop tracks like 'Hold 
Up' and 'Bouncing Ball' couldn't be sniffed 
at even if they were covered in free cocaine. 
Jamie Fullerton 



Jinx Lennon 



Know Your Station Gouger Nation! ! ! 
(Septic Tiger) 

He's mental. His head is exploding with 
confusion, ideas, melodies, injustice, 
Styrofoam cups and maps that lead to 
nowhere. He sounds belligerent, caring, 
irritating, drunk, wrongly sober, chants 
against hospital closure and laundrettes 
and Northern pup motor menace in a thick 
Irish brogue - sometimes duetting with 
a soulful female, pure as driven. 

Know Your Station is brimming over with 
words, intelligence, humour, protest, badly 
sampled beats and scary proselytising. Man, 
it's fine: like Carter USM shorn of all jokey 



student connotations, and given a fierce 
shafting. But much better. 
www.jinxlennon.com 
Jerry Thackray 



John Maus 



Songs (Upset The Rhythm) 

I found a tape. It was Sellotaped to the inside 
of a bin on the edge of a common. I'd like 
to think that either someone was hiding 
nearby, documenting my reaction with 
a Dictaphone, or that it doesn't matter who 
found it. The weather's done something 
bad to this tape, just like people have done 
something bad to John Maus. He hasn't had 
sex in a while, job prospects aren't great: 
he's been staying in with AM radio and 
watching lots of really bad Eighties films. The 
result is this slush of really great, deluded 
pop: a soundtrack for living under duvets 
with E-numbers and analogue equipment. 
It's a communique from the nostalgia- 
encrusted world of Ariel Pink, and of course 
I didn't find it unauthored in the middle of 
nowhere, but I really think I should have. 
Miranda lossifidis 



Stephin Merritt 



Showtunes (Nonesuch) 

I need to say right away that I never liked 
musicals or operas. They always seemed 
like a potentially good story wasted by crap 
songs sung by naff singers with over inflated 
voices. And as much as I otherwise adore 
Stephin Merritt, this Showtunes set does 
not convince me that I have been wrong in 
that opinion. Merritt has always had fun with 
musical history and played with crossing 
genres to great effect. His playfully academic 
approach reached a zenith on the 69 Love 
Songs set, of course, but it's always been 
present in his work. 

On Showtunes, however, the wisdom, 
if not the wit, seems to be lacking, and the 
album emerges as an annoying oddity that 
may have many established Merritt fans 
arching eyebrows and nodding in measured 
appreciation, but will leave newcomers quite 
rightly wondering just what on earth all the 
fuss has been about. 

And me? I just wish he would write some 
Pop Songs again. 
AlistairFitchett 



88 1 plan b 



albums 




Mudhoney 

Under A Million Suns (Sub Pop) 
Witch 

Witch (Tee Pee) 

Stoner doom or righteous horn-rock? Cosmic wars 
or nuclear bombs? Fantasia or dystopia? Mascis 
or Arm? There's a grunge overlord in all of us this 
month: take our revealing test, and find out yours! 

1 . A guitar should sound like: 

A: A wilderness, with a volcano in it. Or like 
a ravaged valley that stretches for infinity. Like 
a dude choking to death, but like in a good way 
because he's eaten something so amazing he's 
dying in total ecstasy. Phasing is fully acceptable. 
Twin leads? Sure. Descending metal scales? Totally. 
B: A war, but a war in which the good people win, 
so kind of triumphant and unrealistic at the same 
time. Like a call to arms to all of you who still give a 
shit. Like fuckin' in the streets! Big riffs, redemptive 
chords, but with plenty fuzz to remind you of the 
fucked-up situation in this goddamn country. 

2. Your drummer is: 

A: One of the most respected guitarists of his 
generation turned sticksman and loving every 



Grendel-rock of the highest order 



tom-thumping, mammoth-humping, skull- 
whacking minute. Has excellent long grey hair. 
B: A hard-hitter with a nice line in thundering, 
intricate fills. Likes cymbals. Knows when to 
groove and when just to pound like a bastard. 

3. What does the end of the world look like 
from where you're standing? 

A: Sky above us, zodiac. Stars are burning into 

black! 

B: I saw the light. It devoured the sky and burned 

out my eyes! 

4. Finally, where is the future that was 
promised us? 

A: Huh? 

B: Yeah, where is our future gone? I want a world 

run by giant brains... 

Mostly A: Congratulations! You are Witch. Not 

actually a witch, although you may practice some 
form of paganism, but a band with J Mascis on 



drums, bassist Dave Sweetapple and Asa Irons 
and Kyle Thomas from the Banhart-associated 
Feathers. The stoner-psych beast to which you 
have given birth lives in a cave and has enormous 
hairy backward-facing feet. But, just as scientists 
celebrated when they discovered a living rat- 
squirrel from a species thought to be extinct, so 
should its existence be lauded. Grendel-rock of 
the highest order. 

Mostly B: Congratulations! You are Mudhoney. 

After 1 8 years subverting rock's straight-ahead 
path with hardcore ideology, garagey insurgency 
and lots of distortion, you understandably feel both 
pretty pleased with yourself and fuckin' angry that 
the world is still as crappy as it ever was. You have 
returned triumphant and slick, with blaring horns 
and satirical lyrics about the state we're in. As 
a soundtrack to the end-times, your album is 
righteously powered-up and stunningly heavy- 
handed and therefore wholly right now. Next up, 
the election campaign; and then, the apocalyspe. 



Erick Messier 



Dreaming In The Royale Oaks 
(Falsetto) 

Dude. There's a lot of this going round at the 
moment. Soulful, introspective American 
singer-songwriter dudes warbling quietly 
to themselves as behind them brass plays 
quietly and an acoustic thrums. Think Conor 
Oberst, Bill Callahan, The Postal Service. You 
know where this South Dakotan is coming 
from: more tortured tales of solitude and 
silent movies, like the aural equivalent 
of all those college boys writing semi- 
autobiographical comics about the way 
nothing happens in their lives. 

Sweet, but oddly unsatisfying. 
Ben Doe 



Metal Hearts 



Socialize (Suicide Squeeze) 

I bet Metal Hearts could find my pulse. 
I can find theirs. It's not in the drum machine 
or in the tangled-up electric guitars. It's 
in the way Flora Wolpert-Checknoff and 
Anar Badalov's voices intersect. There's 
an arithmetic to these convergings; some 
uncertain equation for memory, tenderness 
and wondering. Wolpert-Checknoff's lyrics 
are perfect little rings: "Has he the words 
to make you stay as the green foothills are 
/7/////7^.^"What is this 'hilling'? Something 
for Ira to murmur to Georgia in one of Yo La 
Tengo's softest moments. Something to feel 
with your fingers against your neck. 
Sean Michaels 



Morrissey 



Ringleader Of The Tormentors 
(Sanctuary) 

No one trades in unresolved homoeroticism 
more synonymously than Mr M, so here's 
my own slice of man-on-Moz gushing text 
action. Ringleaderldk^s a step into more 
decadent European streets: away from his 
defensive High Court judge rants of the last 
album, and into Genet-like musings on dark 
desires. 'I Will See You In Far Off Places' 
particularly recalls the Tangier of all those 
great literary escapists seeking a little exotic 
and organic otherness. To reference a form 
of prose tellingly dominated by female 
writers, this is enticing slash fiction indeed. 
Dickon Edwards 



By Chance Upon Waking (Pickled Egg) 

As members of Scatter, Nalle did similar 
things: they played bouzouki and viola; 
Hanna Tuulikki sang with her Newsom and 
billygoat quaver. But while these tracks still 
rustle with a free-folk wildness, these are 
songs, not compositions, with choruses 
tucked into the nests of drone. Though 
there's much to love, elsewhere effect takes 
precedence over affect. Lyrics stream like 
empty placeholders, accessories for Nalle's 
folkloricfeel. When Tuulikki does bring her 
heart into her mouth, - 'Birth Of The Bear'; 
'Ravens' - it takes my breath away: songs 
deliberate, perilous and alive. 
Sean Michaels 



plan b 1 89 



albums 



The Lappetites 

Before The Libretto (Quecksilber) 

The Lappetites are a laptop group. Four women of different generations, 
from different places who compose music by sharing sound and information. 
They are: Elaine Radigue (France) Kaffe Matthews (UK) Ryoko Kuwajima 
(Japan) and AGF (Germany). Alone, they do special things, projects of awe- 
inducing nature. Together, they act as individual struts arranged on digital 
geodesies. In their intersections they play improvised games, exchange bits 
and parts, reconfigure and tweak. Delicately redistributing noises and then 
destroying any sense of sonic hierarchy, these collaborations lie on the 
periphery of something only hinted at in Before The Libretto. We are left 
with the shredded contents of data parcels, their uncharted journey's 
mail stamps: undulating, interweaving secret codes, the remnants of 
a dismembered exquisite corpse. 

This has happened before, and it hasn't. One instance: the NY 
Correspondence School of the Sixties. If they arranged all their exchanged 
mail art into a geodesic dome, covered it with their hands and peeped 
through the cracks between their fingers, itwouldn't be worth it. Historically, 
it needed to happen so that this thing here could happen. And now that the 
polite ritual is rendered obsolete by new technologies, those steps have been 
severed. No physicality has been lost in the process though; things do not 
need to be held to be understood. 

With this first collection. The Lappetites invite our ears to work as 
endoscopes. Each song gives a separate glimpse into the operating piece of 
complex apparatus. In The Lappetites' invention, all dimensions are spoken 
for; every variable of every bit can be extended in any direction. Sounds are 
not revered; their inherent absurdity is embraced and shared and dissected. 
The subtleties of verbal and sonic language are toyed with consistently and 
with dexterity. Nobody owns anything, and the tensegrity between what is 
heard and our imagination of it fabricates the path to follow through this 
egalitarian version of consciousness consequences. 
Miranda lossifidis 



Romance (Calculated Risk) 

This isn't called grind for nothing: getting 
leg-raped by nine-foot Amazons has been 
less gloriously painful. It'll be approximately 
two minutes in before listeners look up, 
dazed, and remark, "Cool, they've got 
a 'song' called 'If Being A Cunt Was People, 
You'd Be China'". They'll then decide that 
yabbering half-musically for less time than 
it takes to watch an episode of Neighbours 
isn't really art. Or fun. But somehow, 
despite love being as far from relevance 
as linguistically possible, Romanceyanks 
you into a flailing spazz-pittime and time 
again, until you've forgotten what in the 
fuck you were doing there in the first place. 
Adam Anonymous 



Nebula 



Apollo (Sweet Nothing) 

I've got more time than most for anything 
Sabbath-derived. However, my tastes are 
fairly specific, mostly veering towards the 
blacker, doomier end of things. Most 'stoner 
rock' can go and blow a fucking goat as far 
as I'm concerned. Lazy, interminably dull and 
non-heavy muso shite up to its ears in debt to 
Kyuss (the stoner Santana) with stupid lyrics 
about freedom and cars. I mean, fuck off! 
Nebula are pretty good though. They sound 
like they're awake, their riffs are infectious 
and they pack a lot of Mudhoney-esque fun 
into each of the lean, fat-free tracks on this 
album. There's nothing here to frighten 
Comets On Fire in the fucked 'n' frazzled 
stakes, but this is better than average music 
to burn holes in your sofa to. 
Joe Stannard 



Conference Of The Birds 
(Holy Mountain) 

The Buddha is in the park. Al Cisneros and 
Chris Hakius of thee cosmick Om are lying 
on the grass. A seagull hovers above. The 



breeze is gentle yet persuasive and breathes 
a subtle whisper upon the faces of the pair as 
they observe the graceful movements of the 
white avian surveying the world below. The 
earth is a rock spinning finitely through its 
revolutions, yet also a living being, subject to 
disease and death. Blessed with perspective, 
the gull understands its relationship with the 
earth. Al and Chris, being earthbound, can 
only speculate as to theirs. But they are able 
to articulate the struggle for ascension better 
than most, having imbibed sacraments that 
have facilitated illumination since ancient 
times. The gull continues to hover. 

"Uh...AI," mumbles Chris, suddenly 
lucid. "Watch out for bird shit, dude." 
Mahavishnu Joseph Stannard 



Park Attack 



Halfpast Human (Textile) 

If their debut EP was somewhat makeshift 
- glued together aural scraps, noise maps 
torn up and fitted together a little askew 
-then this is accomplished. But let's get 
our definitions straight. Those makeshift 
pieces packed one hell of a wallop, and 
this accomplishment just sees them punching 
harder, faster, harder, faster. 

HaifpastHumarwNdNQS an evil goodbye 
to the DNA/Mars comparisons without 
giving up the grinning ghost of no wave. 
This is their sound now and it is a mighty, 
mighty howl. As if staring at the moon was 
a corrosive process, songs like 'The Racket' 
tear into ears and eyes and spines. 
Stewart Gardiner 



Pretty Girls Make Graves 



Elan Vital (Matador) 

Pretty Girls Make Graves produce high class, 
crystal-clear melodies perfect for sticky dance 
floors the world over. With the addition of 
new keyboardist, Leona Marrs, their palette 
is broadened to the point where instrumental 
breaks are more than simply filler before the 
final chorus. It's as though the band have 



found confidence in their sound, allowing 
for plenty of space to whirl around staccato 
rhythm guitars and off-kilter drums. 
Keeping a sense of cohesion without fearing 
experimentation, the album's cinematic 
quality meshes with gigantic marching 
anthems like 'Wild Cat', and should finally 
earn them their stripes as the thinking 
person's disco band. 
Lianne Steinberg 



Psychic Ills 



Dins (The Social Registry) 

Brooklyn-via-Philly-via-Los Angeles 
transplants Psychic Ills didn't reinvent 
themselves upon adding drummer and 
DNTEL sibling Brian Tamborello to the mix, 
so much as realise a sound they at one time 
struggled with. That would be psychedelic 
rock, and by that I mean real, uncut, hazy 
drug sounds, the kind where the vocals are 
made abstract under so much echo and 
laden with so many production effects that 
it's difficult to know where one song ends 
and another begins - entirely appropriate 
for this headf uck of noise, repetition, reverb 
and righteousness. As surprising and 
engaging a debut album as could have been 
expected, the Ills are channeling the obvious 
(Spacemen 3 and Loop, the shoegaze 
oeuvre, 4AD ethereal shimmer) in such a way 
that you never forget they're a rock band. 
This is one of the finest examples of its kind, 
aesthetically balanced and not for show. 
Doug Mosurock 



Razor X Productions 



Killing Sound (Rephlex) 

Kevin Martin, aka The Bug, aka Razor X, 
makes berserker music. The dancehall 
power surges pour through the fray like 
reinforcements, the fatal flaw of the mortal 
body betrayed by the weakness where bones 
break, skin splits, where vessels burst, where 
blood spatters, where life and death magnify 
each other by close proximity and high 
contrast. Ugly as a faceful of scars, a pain 
spike, an unfair fight, blood smeared on 
a silver tooth. Putting your head in these 
bass bins would be like kissing a circular 
saw. MCs mumble through the killing haze 
of spiralling sirens, deliver death threats in 
eerie, disembodied chorus over an echoless 
silence. Each beat is a head shot, the reverb 
heartbeat in the ears of another statistic. 
There can be no truce with the facts of life. 
Even evil motherfuckers better beware. 
kicking_k 



The Red Krayola 



Introduction (Drag City) 

In 1 967, the Red Krayola took to the stage in 
Berkeley, playing against the backdrop of an 
amplified ice block melting in the July heat. 
Pioneering a sound centering more on music 
as art, antithetical to the 'lowbrow' notion 
that music might be entertaining, the Krayola 
spent the bulk of their career churning out 
an experimental din. Their sound transposed 
according to the musical climate, from 
negotiating the strictures of popular music 
on the peripheries of Sixties experimentalism, 
to re-inventing themselves in tune with 
modern-day avant garde luminaries like 
Jim O'Rourke. But in 2006, idly slurring 
convoluted laments over a wonky alt country 
clamour, Introduction sees Thompson 
abandoning the Krayola's innovative 
beginnings for uninspired pastoral jams. 
Beth Capper 



Robotnicka 



Spectre En Vue (Bloodlink) 

Robotnicka's album may have been lying 
there for some time, gathering dust in the 
new wave section of Rough Trade; maybe we 
dismissed it, but that was before we noticed 
the sticker comparing them to Les Georges 
Leningrad, the cover of Lio's 'Banana Split', 
the wildly anarchic, Francophone electro- 
bleeping, veering between doublespeed 
arabesque madness and meditatively paced 
synthesisering. Burn your new folk collection 
and bang your head to this. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



The Rogers Sisters 



The Invisible Deck (Too Pure) 

Tiie Invisible Hand f\r\6s Brooklyn's sisters 
Laura and Jen (and unrelated, non-sister 
Miyuki Furtado) spiking the punch with more 
pronounced, open-ended influences, from 
Sonic Youth's daydreamier pop to Posh Boy- 
styled Valley punk. It's rare that a band 
playing in this idiom gets better as it makes 
more records, but The Rogers Sisters are the 
defiant exception, with their most confident 
and well-written set yet. Songs like 'The 
Clock' are prime Rodney On The ROQ 
anthems for the kids in America (oh whoa 
oh) and you dancepunk jobbers twitching 
along, controlled by invisible strings. 
Doug Mosurock 



Roots Manuva 



Alternately Deep (Big Dada) 

In a time before grime, Roots Manuva was 
one of very few UK hip hop heads I could 
listen to. Thus sprach an independent spirit, 
a self-made man with something other than 
hackneyed Yankeeisms or platitudinal social 
commentary to flog. There was a sense that 
a template was being disrespected, always 
a good thing, especially in homegrown hip 
hop where respect can harden too easily into 
reverence and conservatism -which brings 
me neatly to Alternately Deep, a collection 
of b-sides, downloads and etc. The blunted 
highs and sub-bass swagger are present and 
correct, heavy melodies and slow, purposeful 
grooves. Production duties are scattered 
between Lotek, Jammer and a cast of low 
frequency generators, quality control is high, 
and there's a sensitivity to mood and tone, 
late night back room big city bizness. 
kicking_k 



The Seconds 



Kratitude (SRC) 

The Seconds are A-grade students at the 
school of rock deconstruction. An on-off 
project formed by Brian Chase of Yeah Yeah 
Yeahs, Zach Lehrhoff of industrial Devophiles 
Ex Models, and Jeannie Kwon of The High 
School Hell Cunts, this New York power-trio 
shun verse-chorus-verse in favour of dead- 
eyed mantric vocals, scrapes of guitar, and 
tempo-shifting frames of percussion that 
suggest Chase's time behind the kit in 
YYYs finds him permanently snapping at the 
leash. 'Moving' staggers forth on a looped 
death-rattle, the band chanting until words 
dissolve into jagged, barked glossolia. 
Meanwhile, as with the new Liars, 
surface ugliness occasionally recedes to 
reveal stark, untraditional beauty: see 
the spiralling, tribal-tinged 'Sleeping', 
interlocked harmonies guided by the 
gentle curvature of Lehrhoff's crystalline, 
picked guitar. 
Louis Pattison 



90 1 plan b 




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The Flaming Lips 

At War With The iViystics (WEA) 

It's been a heartbreak to some that, over the 
last decade, Wayne Coyne's warbling-sylph 
vocals have began to wail openly on the 
themes his Flaming Lips once alluded to 
behind LSD-abstaining, natural-psychedelic 
loopiness. It's one thing to sing about 'This 
Here Giraffe', the subtext veiled behind 
the neon nursery-rhyme noize; another to 
openly grapple with Big Subjects: death, 
powerlessness, hope against hopelessness. 

To these ears (and, shucks, heart), the 
change The Flaming Lips engineered circa 
The Soft Bulletin made them a whole lot more 
interesting. Those themes labelled above 
figure heavily in At War With The Mystics, 
an album that'll get played to death by those 
who have trouble sleeping at nights; an utterly 
humanist, Capra-esque symphony for the 
common person, thetrodden-underfoot. 



Power plays and powerlessness are 
recurring motifs. 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Song' asks 
how yoi/ would behave, if you had limitless (if 
vague) power - would you wield it for good, 
or for selfish endeavours? 'Free Radicals' - a 
stuttering Sabbath riff conjured by stuttering, 
faulty-wired electronics - has Coyne accusing 

You can't give up, 

you really can't 

his target, "You think you're so radical/But 
you're not so radical/In fact you're fanatical", 
a weary voice of wisdom and empathy railing 
against the zealots on either side who kill 
innocents in their lunges for power, the voice 
of collateral damage. 

It's a dark, sad album, darker even than The 
Soft Bulletin, more bereft than Yoshi mi Battles 
The Pink Robots. Sonically, these songs inhabit 



rewired wrecks of melancholic AOR, all 
downcast strings, choked guitar licks and 
sentimental melodies. And in almost every 
lyric, life and love are held in the balance, 
atthe mercy of immutable fate, like the 
swooping sirens fatally far in the distance 
on the plaintive 'Mr Ambulance Driver'. 

In less inspired hands, these fables would 
turn to schmaltzy mush. But for the Lips, 
this embrace of melancholy gives their music 
its power. The innocence of old remains, 
signalled by the dreamy musical playfulness, 
the furry animal costumes. The melancholy is 
redeemed by the childlike simplicity with 
which Coyne perceives the emotional truths 
of conflicts, and the optimism that endures 
through the album's sublime closer 'Coin' On', 
an anthem that glows like the light atthe end 
ofthe tunnel. 

It's tough, Wayne Coyne knows that now; 
but you can't give up, you really can't. 



Shooting At Unarmed Men 



Yes Tinnitus (Too Pure) 

I couldn't figure out what you all saw in 
mclusky, really, aside from a handful of 
electrified moments inspired by bands we all 
took for granted in the Nineties. Eventually 
it became evident: you missed the Pixies. 
Well, they're back, mclusky's gone, and their 
bassist Jon Chappie now offers up Shooting 
At Unarmed Men, a lumpy mash of Albini- 
jocking histrionics, 971b weakling tough-guy 
riffs (with spectacles); the evidence of what 
happens when you pull the rug out from 
under that sound (Les Savy Fav shite), and 
some herkajerk mathrock moments. Look, 
we're all angry at something, but if you're 
going to play music where rage is the 



attitude, then dial it up about 1 notches 
(try Man Is The Bastard, Infest and Crossed 
Out) and stop trying to bash pop songs out of 
joint. It's not hard, and it's not tough; merely 
boring. Join a gym, lift weights, and defeat 
your enemies that way. This kind of music is 
no way to live, not any more. 
Doug Mosurock 



Spank Rock 



Yoyoyoyoyo (Big Dada) 

Spank Rock turned up at my house and told 
me I was having a party. They took one look 
at my Anti-Pop Consortium records, laughed, 
and sent me down the offy to pick up some 
cans ofWhite Lightning and a 10-deck 
of Mayfair. When I got back to the house. 



I found cigarette burns in the sofa and 
someone pissing in my pot plant. Upstairs, 
things had got seriously weird. MC Naeem 
Hanks was boning 1 ladies and eight guys 
all at once, while shouting " I am the living 
breathing ghost of Q-Tip" at the top of his 
voice. " But Q-Tip's not dead," I replied. 
He didn't hear me though, because the 
whole house was shaking to its foundations 
with Baltimore booty-hop. It's gonna take 
weeks to get the stains out. 
Daniel Trilling 



Sparks 



Hello Young Lovers (Gut) 

Even a new Mael Brothers tracklisting is a joy 
in itself. From the baroque'n'roll duo that 



brought you 'Now That I Own The BBC, 'I 
Thought I Told You To Wait In The Car', and 
of course 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For 
The Both Of Us' comes the fresh splendour 
of '(Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country', 
and 'As I Sit To Play The Organ At The Notre 
Dame Cathedral'. Their music is still never 
short of extraordinary: Ron's camply insane 
Wagnerian orchestrations buttress infinite 
layers of Russell's vaudeville-alien voice as 
it chants, bickers, whispers and trills witty 
and satirical broadsides at breakneck pace. 
At turns astounding, gripping, frightening 
and exhilarating, this album shows up most 
currently vaunted new acts for the uninspired 
trad-rock fossils they are. 
Dickon Edwards 



92 I plan b 



albums 



Ronnie Spector 



The Last Of The Rock Stars (High Coin) 

Damn. Ronnie Spector. Damn. Only made 
one of the indisputably greatest Pop Singles 
ever. Damn. Only was in one of the two or 
three indisputably greatest Girl Groups ever. 
Only married Phil Spector. Only saw her 
career go belly-up, associating with Bruce 
Springsteen's backing musicians in the 
Seventies. Damn. Now she's back - a clutch 
of hi-octane guests (Patti Smith, Ann Arbor 
garage band The Greenhornes, Nick Zinner, 
Keith Richards) and a bunch of musicians 
who understand her well enough to play to 
her strengths. (The Voice ! The Voice ! ) The 
Johnny Thunders duet with Joey Ramone is 
incredible. The biographical 'Girl From The 
Ghetto' is crap. The Wall of Sound drums on 
'Never Gonna Be Your Baby' are just fine. 
Zinner and Spector combined sound like 
The Detroit Cobras, which rocks! 

This is no Ronettes. But it's Ronnie 
Spector 2006,given another chance to 
give full vent to her incredible voice. And 
that'sjustfine. 
Graham Wiveney 



The Speed Of Sound 



Tomorrow's World (Fifty Watts) 

Here's the deal. Former members of Thee 
Headcoatees and Heavenly share a love for 
Hammond-driven, dry Sixties pop, old BBC 
Radiophonic Workshop records, the Modern 
Lovers and much of the catalogue of Holly 
Golightly (herself a former Headcoatee, of 
course). The result? This! Or rather, this, 
plus that - The Mystery Of The Gable End 
- as this is a two album CD. Songs whirl 
and waltz and judder and jangle and thrum 
quietly to themselves. Musicians sardonically 
reference other sardonic reference points, 
like catching a lo-fi pop seven-inch from 
1 978. Faces smile, wryly. It's very sweet. 
Siobhan Marshall 



Candi Staton 



His Hands (Honest Jons) 

Candi Staton has spent two decades in the 
world of the church; all that time spreading 
the Word seems to have left her with 
a burning need to sing songs of love and 
loss again, as if her desire to tap into those 
emotions with her vocal chords has been 
pent up too long. She sounds thrilled to be 
able to do it, even when immersing herself 
in past pain: the title track, penned by Will 
Oldham, is an account of the domestic 
abuse Staton suffered, and so raw that 
it paralyses you where you sit. Her voice 
cracks repeatedly under the weight of the 
memories - there's one exclamatory "Oh 
my goodness! "\Nh\ch, laden with double 
meanings, flicks the narrative switch 
between fire and ice with a chilling 
suddenness - but sounds liberated to 
be exploring this territory once more. 
Alex Macpherson 



Stereolab 



Fab Four Suture (Duophonic/Too Pure) 

Structured with a fiendish ear for the 
intricate placement of each sound, the 
songs on Fab Four Suture meauder, ebb and 
wriggle into an evocatively coherent whole, 
belying their origins as a set of singles. 
Stereolab's retro-futurist mission of 
blissfully connected edutainment references 
both the Sixties and Eighties idea of 2 1 ^^ 
Century music. Straddling their pop and 
avant-groove obsessions with practised 
ease, the discs are full of slippery socialist 
funk, peculiar electro-skanking, suavely 
psychotronic synths and impressively brazen 
horn arrangements, bookended pleasantly 
by broad-spectrum metronomic chugs and 
bah-bah-oooh harmonies. And yes, there is 
a swirling drone-rockout moment of purest 
Stereolab beauty to enjoy too. 
Richard Fontenoy 



Sunburned Hand Of The Man 



Complexion (Very Friendly) 

From a dainty garden in a leisure centre 
in Somerville, Massachusetts comes this: 
a searing, sprawling monolith from free- 
improv freak beasts Sunburned Hand 
OfThe Man. The raggedy alchemists' 
capricious, chaotic workouts are best 
evinced, and goggled, in the flesh -wherein 
the groove druids been known to conjure 
skeletons, zombies, flamingos, goats and 
clarinets - but this album nonetheless 
conveys many of the creative co-operative's 
talents, avidly straddling their rambling 
catalogue of charms: from eastern beats 
to avant-jazz to primal funk, krautrock, 
free-folk, drone and psychedelic psalms. 
Nicola Meighan 



They Shoot Horses Don't They? 



Boo Hoo Hoo Boo (kill rock stars) 

A Canadian band with a shonky brass 
section and almost enough members to start 
their own football team? Been there. But 
nothing in the world sounds quite like TSH. 
And if three's a crowd then seven Canadians 
is a riot. Spiky post-punk Numbers numbers 
are followed by lovely shy indie songs a la 
The Unicorns, treated with the same spirit of 
humour and misguided passion. Two spare 
Canadians are featured on the band's site, 
listed as contributing 'The ghost of things 
past' and 'Awesomeness', and the presence 
of the latter is evident on 'Empty Head' and 
'Words'. None of which explains the big 
band hillbilly-ness of 'Three', but undue 
weirdness is certainly no reason to boo hoo. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



Comes To Your House (Southern) 

Plunging into these fecund landscapes 
of inner turmoil, we discover examples of 
-shall we say- peculiar sexual proclivities. 



'Black Skull' starts out as demon frog 
creature, slime spurting from its vagina-like 
lips (do demon frogs even have lips?). Ends 
that way too. The next song sounds like cats 
and women being fucked every which way 
but loose and is suspiciously entitled, 'The 
Knife Whisperer'. What we find after that 
- on 'Council Member' - is masturbatory 
fantasy of the never-ending splurge type. 

Our report suggests depravity in the 
extreme, thrashings being the probable 
cause and only cure. We recommend 
complete and sustained exposure. 
Stewart Gardiner 



The Tranquilizers 



Low Birds EP (Construction Set) 

Three transplanted NewZealanders 
sequestered in inner-city Melbourne, 
facilitating struts for young beat-seekers. 
'Low Birds' has it all: gnarly, maraca-shaking 
drum beats, a vocalist who sounds elegantly 
bedridden, poignant harmonica warbles, 
platinum guitars, strawberry champagne 
keyboards, glockenspiel-accented outre 
outros, tender climaxes (these boys are 
likely to be kind lovers) and a near-hairless 
guitarist named Kowalski. 
Shane Moritz 



Jane Weaver 



Seven Day Smile (Bird) 

Yep. Doves play on this. Hey, wait. . .where 
are you going? It's not all bad! Sure, the 
mood is opulent, almost saccharine, sure 
there's an abundance of over-polished 
melodies, but the former Kill Laura 
frontwoman has a certain lilt in her voice, 
that transcends such surrounds. Listen to 
her other band, the playful Misty Dixon, 
for proof. There aren't any stadium-fillers 
here, just sweet Farfisa. This album 
shimmers with intimacy. 
Ben Doe 



brief notes 



Atmosphere 

You Can't Imagine How Much Fun 
We're Having (Rhymesayers) 

Introspective (whisper: emo) hip hop 

from Chicago. 

Bibio 

Hand Cranked (Mush) 

Boards of Canada-style electronica with 

processed field recordings. 

Sir Richard Bishop 

Fingering The Devil (Latitudes) 

One third of Sun City Girls plays beautiful 

Spanish guitar, with nods to John Fahey 

andDjangoReinhart. 

Pete Dale And The Beta iVIales 

Betrayed By Folk (Fortuna Pop) 

Former Milky Wimpshake decides he's 

2006's Billy Bragg. But Billy's still around! 

Dilated Peoples 

20/20 (EMI) 

Fourth album from LA hip hop trio - smart, 

self-assured and very good. 

The Double 

Loose In The Air (Matador) 

American modern rock. "Diet Liars," said 

one Plan 5 writer, but don't let that put you 

off or anything. 

D-Rail 

The Kinetics Of A Decaying Structure 

(Calculated Risk) 

Leeds metalcore, featuring ex-members of 

Beecher and lots of yowling. 



Essex Green 

Cannibal Sea (Track And Field) 

Perky psych pop with a standout motorik 

number and adorable vocal harmonies. 

Fallout Trust 

In Case OfThe Flood (At Large) 

Clever indie-pop from multi-instrumental 

band who sound Canadian but come from 

London. On same label as The Research. 

The Family Way 

The Family Way (Foxyboy) 

Heart-warming collection of male/female 

Hammond-saturated garage goodness. 

Howe Gelb 

'Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey) 

Howe does his thing, backed by gospel 

singers and Jeremy from Arcade Fire. 

Headman 

On (Comma) 

The vocals are arch, the synths go squelch, 

the beats are Berlin and the boys have 

superb hair. Gomma: a brand you can trust. 

Impractical Cockpit 

To Be Treated (Load) 

Thurston Moore and friends do their whole 

Thurston Moore and friends thing - and very 

well they do it too. Except, we're not quite 

sure it's Thurston... 

Lisa Li-Lund & Friends 

Li-Lund Ran Away (Smoking Gun) 

Herman Dune's little sis makes charming, 

naive folksy record with Major Matt Mason. 



The Little Killers 

A Real Good One (Gern Blandsten) 

Saints meet Mummies meet Johnny 

Thunders. . .in yr fucking dreams. No, really. 

Loose Fur 

Born In The USA (Drag City) 

Kotchke, O'Rourke and Tweedy rock out. 

The Love Letter Band 

This World Be My Church 

(States Rights) 

Harrowing folk, palpable darkness and a 

voice that recalls Phil Elverum. From Denver. 

Samara Lubelski 

Spectacular Of Passages 

(Social Registry) 

Nick Drake-ish whisper-folk lady from New 

York, notable for her great arrangements. 

Daniel Meteo 

Peruments (Shitkatapult) 

Ace dub-techno from German remixer of 

ApparatandTheOrb. 

Ove Naxx 

Ove Chan Dancehall (Adaadat) 

Beautifully silly bleeps and squelches from 

ace DIY anarcho-electronica label. 

Charlie Parr 

Rooster (Electone) 

Dude yowls the blues but gets caught in 

a bottleneck on the way to the studio. 

Polysics 

Now Is The Time (Tired And Lonesome) 

Psycho Psycho San ! Japanese boilersuit pop ! 



The Retro Spankees 

I Know You Are But What Am I? 
(Kooky) 

Squeaky, squidgy, squelchy and saturated 
with post-Bis disco/punk madness. Like Help 
She Can't Swim with a sense of humour. 
Souls She Said 
As Templar Nites (Dim Mak) 
Singer and bassist of the Icarus Line make 
sleazy electro punk. 

Steve Treatment & The No Men 
Clear Visions Of Grandeur (Topplers) 
Demented collection of lo-fi magic and tape- 
distorted guitars from old school (1 979) 
Swell Map-championed dude, whose wavery 
voice is uncannily similarto Jack White. 
Aki Tsuyuko 
Hokane (Thrill Jockey) 
Creepy, gorgeous electric lullabies, for fans 
of Nobukazu Takemura and Tujiko Noriko. 
Various 

Bugged Out Mix By Miss Kittin (Resist) 
Two-disc crowd pleaser comp with 'night' 
and 'day' bits, so's you know when to listen ! 
Keith Fullerton Whitman 
Lisbon (Kranky) 

Mr synth drone plays some drones on some 
synths, prompting synth envy in our synth ed. 
Woman 
Das Hexer (Sea) 

No Wave multi-cultural project- Numbers 
or The Contortions grown up in Yorkshire. 



plan b 1 93 



albums 




single girls 

Words: Miss AMP 

Illustration: Siobhan McWilliams 

Delta 5 

Singles And Sessions 1 975-1 981 (kill rock stars) 

The problem with anything so entrenched in the 
hipster canon is that you just automatically want 
to hate it. Anything 'canon' just reeks of one- 
upmanship, boys on message boards calling 
themselves 'Digitalis' explaining how they tried 
for two years to get 'Mrs Digitalis' to accept that 
The Fall were like a good band and they think she 
finally got it, bless her, but only after he played her 
the soft stuff, like 'Victoria' - she couldn't really 
get the proper stuff or anything, but at least she 
tried, you know? 

Establishment. History. All that boring stuff. 
You just want to ignore it on principle. But it's 
extremely important to get over those childish 
knee-jerk reactions. Canon may mean dreary 



dead(ish) people and so on, but canon is also canon 
for a reason. Those texts wouldn't be so venerated 
unless there was something in there, right? 

And so to Delta 5. Predominantly female (yay !) 
art-school early Eighties new wave punk pop from 
Leeds, mainly bass/drums/vocals. Modern musical 
references would be ! ! ! and their ilk, old ones 
would be ESG and early Cure, and most of you 
will be familiar with the Chicks On Speed cover of 

You just want to 

ignore it on principle 

'Mind Your Own Business', which doesn't differ 
that much from the original and therefore gives a 
pretty good impression of the Delta 5 sound. 

As does this: unload the dishwasher and find 
the sharpest breadknife and the tinniest teaspoon 
you can find. Bang together. Kind of fun, ain't it? 
Do it repeatedly to a syncopated rhythm. Hold 
them up in front of your face. Now start repeating 



like these words in a sarky English ladyvoice, 
emphasising those in capitals: "WHO was seen 
with somebody else you YOU YOU YOU!!!! WHO 
likes sex but only on Sundays? You YOU YOU 
you! ! ! ! WHO keeps me out when I want to go 
home you YOU YOUyou!!!! WHO took me to the 
Wimpy for a big night out you YOU YOU YOU! ! ! ! " 

Now turn to the counter and bang the knife 
and spoon on the edge of it, sing-songing: 
"/. . . found. . . out. . . about. ../... found. . . out. . . 
about... YOU!" 

You might want to imagine an insistent, 
syncopated bassline while you're at it and some 
glassy little bits of guitar scattered across at regular 
intervals. Congratulations, you got it. Isn't it great? 

Delta Five may be canon; a name to drop 
alongside Gang Of Four; a girl-culture reference 
to be familiar with, Wke Ladies And Gentlemen The 
Fabulous Stains, but that's a good thing. Get this 
record; it comes with cultural brownie points and 
it is glacial and brilliant. 



Fabric 27: Matthew Dear/Audion 
(Fabric) 

I don't think it's possible to rave underwater, 
but this CD will nnake you feel like you can. 
Techno DJ Matthew Dear (who goes under 
the recording nanne Audion) has made a mix 
that rises slowly from the depths, starting 
from the quietest deep-sea ripples. Ali 
Khan's 'Waterbomb' sounds like an intrepid 
mission to the darkest corners of the globe; 
Robert Babicz's 'Battlestar' is a minimal 
acid masterpiece; and the Luciano mix of 
Vienna Vegetable Orchestra's 'Ciboulette' is 
a surreal end to a deliriously submerged mix. 
Robin Wilks 



Roll Deep Presents Grimey Vol 1 
(DMC) 

Instead of following through on its early 
promise to storm the charts (and do its bit for 



the UK economy), grime stayed ghettoised; 
dismissed because it seemed to only find 
favour only with bloggers, chavs and, like, 
/p/ac/r people, not British enough to be 
permitted to represent British music. 

People who sneer at grime are idiots, 
though, (jr/mey-which functions as 
a greatest hits mix, with a couple of 
astonishing freestyles thrown in to point the 
way forward - is a reminder that no other 
music this decade in theUK has been as 
urgent, timely, or indeed so deeply British. 
Every track sounds anthemic. Rewind back 
to Donae'o's springboard stutter flow on 
'My Philosophy (Bounce)', further back to 
the glory days when So Solid Crew held the 
charts to ransom with bass so hungry it could 
swallow you whole; forward to Stush's 
chipmunk squeal on 'Dollar Sign', and then 
bring yourself up to speed with Flirta D's 
insane larynx action on SLK's 'Hype ! Hype ! ', 
and the cavernous rave noises of last year's 



banger, Tinchy Stryder's 'Underground'. This 
is electrifying, still vital; and if it's going to be 
barred from the party, well, it's got the entire 
fucking planet on which to run amok. 
Alex Macpherson 



Trade And Distribution Almanac 
Volume III (Adaadat) 

It's only so long you can use music to make 
people's faces bleed, before they start 
looking elsewhere for their thrills. Good job, 
then, that premier electro noise label 
Adaadat is showing evidence of broader 
tastes on this, the third showcase of UK/ 
Euro/Japanese mania. This time around, the 
usual splattered beats'n'beeps of Germlin, 
Romvelope and the rest are augmented with 
vocals, cut-price r'n'b, and screamo band 
Cutting Pink With Knives. Elsewhere, DJ Top 
Gear indulges his pirate radio MC fantasies 
('Slapper'), Silverlink gets his Kwik-Save rave 



on to 'Drunk Girls', and French one-man 
midi trigger Duracell spars with Japanese 
GameBoy abuser DJ Scotch Egg. 

Cestchouette! 
Daniel Trilling 



Warren G 



In The Mid-Nite Hour (Bodog Music) 

G-funk is back, slathered in mojo, shimmying 
in a blunt haze. There's no escape these days 
from half-ass wannabes, crappy derivations 
(and to be honest the last 2 1 3 album was 
a bit of a flop) hybridising Regulate-era 
swagger. But this is the proper street. 
Irrepressibly laid back, sex-charged. And 
will everyone stop fronting at me like sex and 
sexism are the same thing? The first is good, 
the second is bad, sometimes they overlap. 
But G is sex, like Raphael Saadiq, and the 
two together (in duet 'Walk These Streets') 
is, like, the best thing ever. That's it! 
Melissa Bradshaw 



94 1 plan b 



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3777 



albums reissues 




devil's delight 

Words: Neil Kulkarni 
Illustration: James Daniel 

Faust 

Faust IV (Virgin) 

All you end up doing when talking about so much 
Seventies music is butting your head against the fact 
that things just can't sound this charged with naive 
wonder and innovative reach any more. It ain't just 
that rock is getting explored or expanded here, it's more 
that its essential limitations are being mapped out so 
thoroughly, and within songs that are so untutoredly 
unhinged in content and construction that current rock 

I never wanna hear 
a record try and sound 
like this ever again 

'experimentation' can't help sounding like the spoddish 
trailchasing it usually is. Faust, Neu!, Can, La Dusseldorf, 
Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Harmonia, Cluster-these 
bands are stars, events in the firmament seemingly as 
freewheeling and chaotic as a supernova, yet with an 
chemical and astrophysical coherence you could spend 
a lifetime decoding. 

So as ever, listening to Faust, especially on this 
beautifully remastered reissue of their 1 973 swansong, 
is entirely inspirational, but only in that one would hope 
music could still be made with this generous vanguard 
spirit. I never wanna hear a record try and sound like this 



ever again. I hope this is heard by hip hop producers, 
grime MCs and doom-metal bands. And I hope post-rock 
pootlers only hear it to be reminded of why they should 
have given up a decade before most of them were born. 
Faust were there, more beautifully, more melodically, 
more soulf ully and sweetly than anyone since. 

The original album sounds startlingly fresh. 
'Krautrock' is pure magic enacted on the brain. But I'd 
forgotten just what a great rubbery skank 'The Sad 
Skinhead' is, and just what a gorgeous weft of wonder 
'Jennifer' is, how it stands up to anything off Neu! 75, 
how it destroys its legion of copyists in subtlety and that 
headwreckin' warpyweft of overdriven drone. And we 
haven't even got time here to go into the lurid Herzog 
psychodrama of 'Just A Second/Picnic/Deuxieme 
Tableaux', the Monks-style rattle and belief of 'Giggly 
Smile', or the gorgeous Cantebury cosmonautics of 
'Lauft' and 'It's A Bit Of A Pain'. Just hear them. 

The extra CD pulls together three of the Peel Session 
tracks (the mindblowing delay-funk of 'Lurcher' sits 
uncannily well with those Miles' 'Cellar Door' sessions 
currently threatening to swallow up the year, while 'Do 
So' sounds like the fucking Zombies!) and six unreleased 
tracks recorded by Uwe Nettelbeck. The alternate takes of 
the bulk of IV are intriguing (and in the case of 'Jennifer' 
and 'Just A Second' debatably even better than the 
originals) but the never-before-heard 'Piano Piece' is a 
shimmering breeze that's redolent of that heartstopping 
last minute of the Stones 'Moonlight Mile' and prefigures 
Eno/Fripp's 'Evening Star' by a good couple of years. 

Ever ahead but crucially taking your hand tenderly 
every step of the way. Make a pact with all of this soon. 



Les Baxter 



The Fruit Of Dreams (el/Cherry Red) 

Presenting the selected adventures of 
Hollywood composer, arranger and ersatz 
ethnomusicologist Les Baxter, in which 
QuetzalcoatI brushes feathers with hula girls 
who dance to Santeria drums by the light 
of a Saharan moon, and the pyramids of 
Palenque are scaled by B-movie goddessesin 
leopard-print bikinis, bearing pet monkeys. 
Throughout the Fifties and Sixties, Baxter 



scored countless narratives of imaginary 
exoticas; sensual paradises both mystical and 
libidinous. Some were for real films; others 
were intended for journeys undertaken in 
the imagination only- round the world in 
the cocktail hour, and back before bed. 
While working well within the era's 
conventions and prejudices, Baxter's odd 
rhythmic and harmonic tropes (echoing 
woodblocks, 'tribal' chanting and tinkling 
chimes were a speciality, as were odd 



bastardisations of 'Eastern' scales and 
modes) and use of the emerging possibilities 
of recording technology, not to mention a 
knack for string arrangements that slip-slide 
across the consciousness like cocoa-butter, 
make his Orientalist loungecore an 
enduringly languorous, bizarre treat. 

In his superb guide to all things tiki, 
Exotica, David Toop recommends we listen 
to Baxter not as background music but "with 
more attention", to hear its "deep longing 



forthesensuous, fabulous, even mythical." 
I quite agree - although I must admit 
I personally like to listen the 1 957 classic 
'Harem Silks From Bombay' while dressing 
up as a priestess of the Egyptian cat goddess 
Bast and subjecting my boyfriend to the 
ancient rituals thereof. 
Frances May Morgan 



Cocteau Twins 



Lullabies To Violaine(4AD) ^^ 

What do we talk about, when given 
1 50 words to sum up the indistinct but 
distinguished career of these 4AD fantasists 
-who made a magic circle and stayed there, 
who invented a language for themselves 
and embraced their artistic autism -this 
most perfectly-named band? 

We talk about wordlessness, the 
inarticulacy of mood and emotion that finds 
an analogue in these songs' fragile flux, the 
voice as instrument, refusing to step into the 
foreground, to break the fourth wall. The 
gasps and gurgles when she meanders 
through the nauseous, churning guitars of 
the early stuff like a lost child, the percussive 
catalogue of groans, cries that glitter like 
broken glass, the deep yelps that subside 
at length into half-whispers. And then, the 
flutters and trills of a band whose initial 
neuroses ripen into warm tones, like 
choreography for flowers. 

We talk about how very few bands 
manage to make their own world, and how 
even fewer are so lucky as to come to sound 
like they're happy there. I would give it five 
stars, a small constellation. 
kicking_k 



Martin Denny 



The Best Of Martin Denny's Exotica 
(EMI) 

If you ever want to know about the power 
of 'arranging', listen to Martin Denny. As 
much as it paints pictures of Denny and his 
ensemble as great musicians, this 'Best Of 
portrays Denny as a great band leader. There 
are few in his league - Duke Ellington, James 
Brown - that can so define a genre. 

It's no surprise that it was a Denny album 
that lent its name to the genre of 'exotica'. 
Right down to the previously unreleased 
Fifties interview we're treated to at the end, 
this compilation proves a great one-way 
ticket to Denny's world of imaginary birds, 
sunsets and marimbas. 
Little Jimmy Oddman 



Guitar Wolf 



Golden Black (Must Destroy) i 

Black leather jackets and shades define 
this band, so calling the Best Of Guitar 
Wolf Golden Black\s a twist of laconic 
genius which entirely suits their overloaded 
shredding of rock'n'roll in the grand tradition 
of Ramones and Blue Cheer. 

Best enjoyed at similar volume to their 
ear-bleeding live shows, this compilation 
offers 26 new ways to bounce maniacally 
offthe walls. The Anglo-Japanese lyrics 
and " 1-2-3-4 " intros are snarled with the 
same atavistic intensity as the frazzled 
guitar solos and jet-propelled three-chord 
trebly distortion. Many of the songs are 
unreleased outside Japan, and every track 
on this sweaty bundle of fun is a black-clad, 
zombie-slaying stomp which distills the 
irrepressible energy of Guitar Wolf to 
overproof strength. 
Richard Fontenoy 



96 1 plan b 




i'm being good 

spares or repairs 




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-:Jj 



pine forest 

asleep in witcties' gold 



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the bugs 

you gotta wait 




small things 

pregnant longer than hunnans 




bald mermaid 

let us be your snails 



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plan b 1 97 



albums reissues 




loved ones 

Words: Joe Stannard 

Illustration: Till Thomas 

Talking Heads 

77 

More Songs About Buildings And Food 

Fear Of Music 

Remain In Light 

Speaking In Tongues (Sire/Warners/Rhino) 

Little Creatures 

True Stories 

Naked (EMI) 

Talking Heads were a big deal in my house. In between 

the shouting, swearing and domestic violence there were 

occasions when David Byrne's neurotic, nasal croon acted 

as a psychic link between my mother, my father, my older 

brother and me. It was my brother's copy of Remain 

In Lightthat did it. Mum and dad - both funkateers 

- appreciated the furious, intricate lattice of rhythms 

woven through 'Crosseyed And Painless', 'The Great 

Curve' and 'Once In A Lifetime' while my brother dug 

the overall hipness of these awkward New Yorkers 

They belonged everywhere 

sucking in an entire world's worth of music and spitting 
out a uniquely clean and wiry white funkadelia. 

For me. Talking Heads were a passport to a wider, 
weirder world. I pretty much hated music at that point. 
My folks played soul and jazz and r'n'b incessantly when 
they weren't throwing cups at each other, my father 
being a drummer and my mum an ex-Mod. I feel 
differently now, but back then all that straining, heaving 
and testifying left me hugely unimpressed. Wilson 
Pickett? Fuck off. Aretha Franklin? Bite me. Otis Redding? 
Up your arse. Talking Heads were different. They sounded 
like they belonged everywhere and looked like I could 



have made them up. Whenever they materialised on 
the TV screen I would instantly drop whatever toy I was 
absently abusing and pay attention. David Byrne jerked 
around like a sweaty, bug-eyed marionette. Jerry Harrison 
resembled a bizarre hybrid of cat, alien and human. 
Chris Franz had an engagingly chubby face. And Tina 
Weymouth made me feel . . .uncomfortable, as New York 
ladies often did back then (hey, Debbie!). The subliminal 
presence of freak genius Brian Eno on More Songs. . . , 
Fear Of Music and Remain In Lightwas something I only 
picked up on later as an art-rock obsessed teenager. 

Listening to Talking Heads still makes my eyes glaze 
over with wonder. Their music can be satisfyingly sinister 
('Drugs' and 'Memories Can't Wait' from Fear Of Music, 
'The Overload' from Remain In Ligtit,), overwhelmingly 
exultant ('Don't Worry About The Government' from 77, 
'Thank You For Sending Me An Angel' from More 
Songs. . . , 'The Great Curve' from Remain In Light) or 
oddly extra-perceptive ('The Girls Want To Be With 
The Girls' from More Songs. . . , 'Cities' from Fear Of 
Music) and whether they're being dark as a shark or 
exploding with colour, their hues are always, always 
rich and saturated. 

The first five records are as much a curse as a blessing, 
because they indicate countless possible routes for 
Western mainstream pop yet foreclose on any possibility 
of those routes ever being taken with quite the same 
degree of ridiculous brilliance. The final three all have their 
merits, especially the surprisingly eerie parting shot of 
Naked, but they struggle to reach the vertiginous heights 
of that magical period between 1 977 and 1 983. It 
scarcely matters, though; Talking Heads never really 
disgraced themselves. They left that to other, lesser 
bands. The ones the world actually deserved. 



Devine & Statton 



The Prince Of Wales (LTM) 
Cardiffians(LTM) 

This is music for wet Sunday afternoons 
where one ennui-tinged hour drifts into 
another, for bright Thursday evenings spent 
watching popinjays pronnenading, for late 
night coffee-fuelled insomnia. 

These two albums appeared during the 
first flush of grunge. In such a climate, their 
breezy, light arrangements, European pop 
sensibilities and deft melodies seemed 
almost indecent. Never mind that in the 
cover of New Order's 'Bizarre Love Triangle' 
on The Prince Of Wales{]9S9),fomer 
Ludus songwriter Ian Devine and ex-Young 
Marble Giants singer Alison Statton had 
stumbled across an indubitably timeless 
feeling - as I wrote then, " Possessed of 
such languid, easy beauty as to make me 
catch my breath in sharp relief". And it 
wasn't even the album's best song. 

Cardiff ians{]990) added a brass 
section and Marc Ribot on guitar- and 
once more, the sound was sparse, delicate 
without ever seeming cute. 

Two wrongly hidden gems. 
Everett True 



The Best Of Hefner (Angry Ape) _ 

With the verve of the Velvets, the arty 
uptight tangle of early Talking Heads or 
Voidoids (there's a lovely nod to 'Love 
Comes In Spurts' in 'Hello Kitten') and 
the gloriouslytarnished glamour of The 
Go-Betweens, Hefner were the kings of 
barbed, literate Indiepop when it was 
barely fashionable. 

From their 1 996 cassette debut to the 
swansong of 2002's The Hefner Brain, 
Hefner wrote and recorded hymns for 
alcohol, cigarettes, the postal service, and 
every damn pure-hearted outsider who 
ever dreamt of the quietly enraged inheriting 
the earth. And if this collection of 20 prime 
cuts from their four universally magnificent 
albums (yes, even the 'oddity' of the 
electronic 'Dead Media') and singles 
doesn't have you gyrating around your 
bedroom with the wild eyed beatitude 
of Dean Moriarty, then you are dead in 
the heart and in the head. The Sweetness 
Lies Within, indeed. 
AlistairFitchett 



John Jacob Niles 



My Precarious Life In The Public ^h 
Domain (Rev-Ola) ^| 

If Edgar Allen Poe had stabbed that sodding 
raven in the neck and taken up playing 
the dulcimer, he might have sounded 
something like John Jacob Niles. 

One of the foremost American 
balladeersofthe 20th Century, Niles sang 
songs of woe, unrequited love and bloody 
murder in a ghoulishly high tenor. On 
My Precarious Life. . . Rev-Ola presents us 
with a selection of Appalachian folk songs, 
originally collected by the 1 9th Century 
folklorist Francis S Child. Ignore the Bob 
Dylan namecheck on the sleevenotes, and 
head straight for the songs themselves. 
Cheatin' wives and pining lovers abound, 
shoving knives through the heart and 
leaving cabbage heads in the bed. All 
of which makes the hills of Kentucky 
sound like one hell of a scary place. 

Ignore this at your peril. 
Daniel Trilling 



98 1 plan b 



albums reissues 



stereo Total 



My Melody (kill rock stars) 
Juke Box Alarm (kill rock stars) 

Wanting to let some kitsch in your life? Look 
no further than the third and fourth albums 
from the multilingual, bubblicious Stereo 
Total. Everything's tacky, but wonderfully 
so: like a red vinyl swivel bubble chair or a 
Cissy Mo shop window, a riot of brightness, 
maliciousness and colour. Instruments 
gurgle. Instruments burble. Instruments 
beep and engage in furious one-note fights, 
while tinny female vocals and synthetic 
keyboards race through haze after haze of 
anthemic melody. Beats are relentless as 
your heart. As one wise woman said, "Hot 
Chocolate meets the first Flying Lizards 
record in the Residents practise room under 
the supervision of Pierre Henry" . I would 
recommend one album over the next, but 
I'm confused as all hell as it is. 
Everett True 



Alternative Animals (Shock) 
Inner City Sound (Laughing Outlaw) 

Australian punk always was more energised 
than its UK counterpart. It was grittier, more 
focused, had more to kick against (Aus 
in '75 was one helluva redneck country), 
understood its Sixties roots in Nuggets and 
a thousand no-hope garage bands better 
- simply put, it kicked more ass. Take these 
two awesome compilations as proof. 

The first chronicles early live 
performances and demos from such 
legendary outfits as The Saints, Nick Cave's 
bratty Boys Next Door and Radio Birdman, 
alongside Leftovers' three-chord thrash 
and Rocks' post-Sex Pistols pout, 'Your So 
Boring'. It comes with a bonus CD-Rom 
full of family trees, fanzines, venues. . . 
everything you may possibly want to know 
about Aus punk between '75 and '79. 

The second is jaw-droppingly 
comprehensive: 47 tracks ranging from the 
late Seventies to early Eighties, Saints to 
The Go-Betweens to Triffids and Scientists, 
Hunters & Collectors and a host of lesser- 
known names - and has its own family tree 
in the sleevenotes. Want an education in 
Aus underground music? Look no further. 
Everett True 



London Is The Place For Me 3: 
Ambrose Adeyoka Campbell 
(Honest Jons) 

London, 1 945. Make your way from the 
docks, through the battered streets of the 
East End, lookatthesmashed buildings, like 
so many rows of broken teeth. Feel the cold 
and the suspicious stares on your black skin. 
They call you West Indian; you're Nigerian. 

London, 1952. Pick your way across the 
bomb-sites of Soho, stumble past the bars 
and cafes, into a club called the Abalabi. 
Have your ears, heart and soul filled with 
the collision of highlife, jazz and swing. See 
bandleader Ambrose Adeyoka Campbell 
swinging, singing, shouting: "We have it 
in Africa! " Now we have it in London too. 

London, 2005. Discover this music. Feel 
the warmth radiating from the speakers on 
your stereo. Listen to the repeated line of the 
closing track, 'Odudua': "I am a stranger/I 
am a stranger/I don 't l<now wiiere I'm going 
to, darling. "Realise that this is still a city of 
eight million people trying to find a home. 
Daniel Trilling 




the true report 

Words: Everett True 
lllustrdtion: Miranda lossifidis 

muddy country paths 

Linus were an unassuming band. 
Sparky, nervous, sometimes insecure 
- the music reflected the tension 
within. They appeared round the 
time of Riot GrrrI, 1 991 , and were 
cast in with the new insurrectionists, 
perhaps wrongly. Yet their warped, 
abrasive male/female guitar pop 
songs seemed to mirror the anger 
and hope of the day -and continued 
to do so, throughout the Nineties. 
Taut, wired, unhappy and full of 
possibilities. They released several 
singles, an album - and are now 
sadly no more, following the death 
of guitarist Andy Roberts. Fellow 
Linus member. Tammy Denitto is 
determined to keep Andy's memory 
alive; hence these two recent 
compilations. The Course of True 
Linus Never Did Run Smootti and 
Andy Roberts: 4-Track Demos (Mole 
In The Ground). Andy's demos are, 
as you'd expect, sweetly insular, 
personal, affecting and resonant. 
Linus sound far more outgoing: 
sometimes akin to Throwing Muses, 
other times a garage-fed splendour. 
www.linusland.co.uk 

paper mannequins 

Blame The Microphones. No, don't. 
Tape loops, doleful soulful bedroom 
singing, and rented storage facilities 
have been around much longerthan 
Mr Elverum's backpacking visions of 
Western society. Yet Parenthetical 
Girls' sweet, slender debut album 
(((Grrrls))) (Slender Means Society) - 



conceptualised in 2002, and released 
on vinyl a year later -sounds dusty, 
deserted, fed only by the snow- 
capped hills around Portland, 
Oregon and a yearning to be free. 
Sometimes, this is like listening to an 
even more indulgent Oberst. Other 
times, a laptop version of Deerhoof, 
minus the sudden rhythm changes. 
www.slendermeanssociety.com 

a deserted highway 

An old man sings the praises of an 
old band. Might as well go fishing for 
wallpaper. The old band once meant 
something to teenage boys. (Girls? 
Poss.) An old band reared on sweaty 
nightclubs and Keith Waterhouse, 
Sixties films and Reginald Perrin, 
smashed guitars and a fear of being 
assimilated. The crucial line ran, 
"No corporations for ttie new age 
sons/Tears of rage run down your 
face, but still you swear it's fun " An 
old band: caustic, searing, inspiring, 
communicating... never static. Not 
that it matters. In the late Seventies, 
pop music meant something else 
entirely. Did it? You should never 
compare generations. Were The 
Jam my generation's equivalent of 
The Arctic Monkeys? How would 
I know? Don't confuse cynicism 
with criticism. All I know is the 
recent reissued 29-track collection 
of The Jam's greatest moments 
Snapl (Polydor) inspires me, still. 

trumpet sounds 

Caught somewhere between the 
extravert pop of Haircut 1 00, the 
nouveau jazz of Weekend and The 
Style Council, the out-and-out swing 
of Vic Godard's Subway Sect and 



something far more unsettling (The 
Passage, say) nestled Manchester 
band Dislocation Dance. Never 
funky enough to appeal to the post- 
Pop Group crowd, too slick to pull in 
the punks but nowhere near slick 
enough for the New Romantics, 
these two LTM reissues from the 
early Eighties, Music Music Music/ 
Slip That Disc! and Midnight Shift + 
Singles show them to be a band of 
singularvision and alluring rhythmic 
changes, wrongly overlooked. 

four poofs and a guitar 

They're smart. They're sassy. They 
rock. They have titles like 'He 
Whipped My Ass In Tennis (Then 
I Fucked His Ass In Bed)' and 'The 
Nine Inch Males EP'. I used to worry 
I might be arrested travelling through 
back from America through customs 
with their graphic sleeves. They play 
goodtime punk that happens to 
be 'out'. They are of course Pansy 
Division and The Essential. . . 
(Alternative Tentacles) is funnier than 
a shed-load of vanillla Green Day and 
Blink 1 82 fans being rogered firmly 
up the ass. Comes with bonus DVD. 

my golden lover 

"Back in '68 in a sweaty club/ 
Before Jimmy's Machine and The 
Rocksteady Rub/On a night when 
flowers didn't suit my shoes. . . " Ever 
wonder why Dexys were driven to 
write those words ('Geno')? Then 
check this two-CD set out, Geno 
Washington &The Ram Jam Band 
The Best Of (Sanctuary) - and 
wonder no more. Pure hi-octane, 
sweaty, funky, goodtime soul, 
pumped out with lashings of energy. 



plan b 1 99 



(^sSiJIa/^ 



this book could change your life 

Words: Everett True 

Images: Jim Woodring (this page), Chris Ware, Eddie Campbell (overleaf) 

all drawn from Graphic Novels: Stories To Change Your Life (Aurum, £18.99) 

From superheroes to Spiegelman, Paul Gravett charts the chequered history of 
the graphic novel 



"The world of comics may, in its generosity, lend 
scripts, characters, and stories to the movies, but 
not its inexpressible secret power of suggestions 
that resides in that fixity, that immobility of 
a butterfly on a pin" -\^e6euco\^e\\\n\ 

Paul Gravett. Man. Where to start? On the 351 
bus from Brentwood to Chelmsford, pulling out 
a superhero comic to read, and all of sudden this 
older kid from my school - Ian Wieczorek - starts 
speaking to me, asking me my favourite comic book 
artists. We started chatting, discovered a common 
love for the spooky, scratchy lines of Swamp Thing 
artist Berni Wrightson and the cinematic visions 
of A//c/cFu/y illustrator Jim Steranko. Later, Ian 
introduced me to his comic book-loving friends 
-the sardonic, sensitive Phil Elliott (a man who once 
climbed out of a bathroom window at a comic book 
convention rather than face up to his fans). Mod 
fan Paul Chester, and this even older guy, Paul 
Gravett. We were like, 14-18. Paul G had also 
gone to my school, but he was sophisticated: 
he liked continental non-superhero comics and 
Metal Hu riant, was excited by old newspaper strips, 
all at a time when I was still trying to figure out who 
was foxier, the Scarlet Witch or the Black Widow. 

Phil and Ian were both artists, created their own 
comic strips. They decided to start their own small 
print run magazine Fast Fiction and sell it at the 
regular comic book conventions held in London 
circa 1980. We were like, 19-23. Paul G got to hear 
of this, offered to come in and help them set up a 
stall, and a distribution service, to encourage talent. 
Future From Hell creator, the bespectacled, sarcastic 
Eddie Campbell, was one of the firstto come in, 
with his awesome tales of everyday Southend life. 
Alec. There was Myra, with her salacious Camden 
Town hipster creation, Ed Pinsent's weird dream-like 
imagery and Glenn Dakin's scratchy illumination, 
geniuses all. These weren't superheroes, far from 
it. This was sci-fi or horror or naive dream fantasy, 
and, more often that not, real life -years before 
Fantagraphics popularised the form. 

And above it all hovered Paul Gravett, like 
a benevolent uncle figure, enthusing and pushing 
and attempting the absolute impossible. . .even 
from that early age, Paul wanted to make a living 
from his enthusiasm, a living from comics. 

"lean never remember a time when I wasn't 
interested in comics," explains Paul, the man behind 
the excellent new compendium Graphic Novels: 
Stories To Change Your Life (Aurum). " My first 



involvement was setting up the Fast Fiction 
table in 1981 as a way to get people together, 
because people were publishing their own zines 
in isolation - it was very hard to get hold of material, 
usually you'd end up being cornered by people at 
comic book conventions, trying to get you to buy 
some rubbish. 

"After that, I worked at pssst! magazine. My 
most bizarre job there was being the Cliff Richard 
of comics, travelling round the country on a double- 
decker bus in the depths of winter, promoting 
a very glossy, overproduced European-style comic. 
It was there that I came up with an idea for my own 
magazine. Escape, partly as a reaction to what was 
wrong with pssst!, also from looking in the small 
press, American New Wave and of course Europe 
- Italy, Spain and elsewhere. Escape ran between 



printing collections of their work, in book form 
-called graphic novels. 

"There had been flurries of interest in the 
Sixties," Paul reminds me "The whole wave of 
pop art, there was ICA exhibition in 1 969 called 
Aaarghh that was incredibly influential in bringing 
cultural attention to comics. Also [2000AD 
character] Judge Dredd was getting very favourable 
music press coverage early on [in the Seventies]. 
What changed was that people in the Eighties 
who'd grown up on comics, like yourself, became 
journalists and were able to say 'Yes, I like comics', 
and at the same time comics themselves were 
trying to take a few steps out of their prolonged 
adolescence and do something else. They became 
more serious, while still leaving room for the crazy 
irresponsible material. 



'Comics are grown up and infantile as 
well. The idea that comics are 'adult' 
is simply not true' 



1 983 and 1 989, 1 9 issues. The first nine were self- 
published, the last 1 done through Titan Books. " 

Escape was basically Fast Fiction, only given 
a (miniscule) budget and casting its net further. 
It mixed in quirky, affecting comic strips with 
considered articles and stuck to the A5 format. 
Underthe Escape Publishing imprint, Paul and his 
partner Peter Stanbury published future Sandman 
author Neil Gaiman's first graphic novel, the 
disturbing Violent Cases (1 987), and collections of 
Eddie Campbell's work. Between 1 992 and 2001 , 
Paul was the director of The Cartoon Art Trust, a UK 
charity dedicated to preserving the best of British 
cartoon art and caricature. He has also curated 
numerous exhibitions, including the first art gallery 
exhibition of works by Alan Moore, and writes 
about comics for several publications. 

Escape's run coincided with a fresh surge of 
interest in comic books in the press, mostly brought 
about by the work of two writers, Alan Moore 
{Watchmen, Swamp Thing, VFor Vendetta) and 
Frank Miller {Dark Knight, Daredevil). For the first 
time since the advent of Marvel Comics in the early 
Sixties, it seemed that mainstream comic book 
creators were looking to move the genre along. 
And in return, the publishing companies started 



"There should always be that room," Paul says, 
momentarily distracted. "The vulgar and the rude 
are an integral part of comics. Comics having 
to be serious would be a huge mistake - they 
should never be totally respectable. They need 
to keep an edge. 

"So," he continues, back on track, "there 
were three really big graphic novels that caught 
the attention, two superhero - Watchmen and 
Dark Knight- and Maus. Many people tended 
towards Maus, which didn't have any superhero 
baggage. Maus was so different. It was drawn in 
a crude way. Its subject matter, the Holocaust, used 
funny animals for a very serious subject. All these 
factors made it an alien artefact for people to look 
at. The reason it was successful is because there is 
a curiosity to understand what happened during 
the Holocaust, and its after-effect of the survivors 
and on the children of survivors, which had never 
really been looked at this way before, not even 
in novels. 

"The other factor is that it wasn't just the 
story of history, but of today. Art reflecting on 
his own feelings and his relationship with father. 
All these things were done with extraordinary care. 
Spiegelman would rewrite his speech balloons up to 

plan b 1 101 



graphic novels 



Jjiv^rv^v Corrl^at) fo focoy 



Parental bonds 

One focus of Chris 




"In tetms of attention to detail, graceful use of color, and overall design, Ware 1 

And while each panel is relentlessly polished-never an errant line or lazily : 

image-his drawings, somehow, remain delicate and achingly lyrical , 

DAVE ECGER5 



Memory tricks 





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guilt trip witen Itis fattier is 



plays on his guilt fo 



y 



'Comics have finally got an avant- 
garde, ambition and courage, and 
they're moving in directions that 
other media have given up on' 



40 times, something almost unimaginable in the 
high-pressure world of superhero comics. 

"Comics can, when they're done with extreme 
care, be very powerful," Paul explains. "The 
problem was there was a lot of hype around 
the three graphic novels - Maus deserved it, 
but both Watchmen and Dark Knight had limited 
audience appeal, because they were centred around 
superheroes. This terrible phrase came about, 
'Comics have grown up'. Comics are grown up 
and infantile as well. The idea that comics are 'adult' 
is simply nottrue. This hype meantthat all kinds of 
material were put in fancy covers and called graphic 
novels - and a lot was really bad. More often than 
not, it was part of the never-ending soap opera of 
superhero comics. There were good books out, but 
they got swamped. There was /.o\/e/\nc//?oc/:ets. 
Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruise - a fantastic 
graphic novel [dealing with sexual identity conflict, 
and America's civil rights movement of the Sixties] 
easily up there with Maus. . . 

" It's a generational process. We can only go so 
far each decade - now we're another generation 
along, more sophisticated. We don't have to start 
at square one, but... square two." Hesighs. "Itis 
a slow process, but the public reception of graphic 
novel is now much more informed." 

Graphic Novels: Stories To Change Your Life is 
a brilliant anthology- brilliant in both its simplicity 
and clarity of vision. Basically, Paul understands that 
to most people, certainly in this country, graphic 
novels and comic books themselves are still tainted, 
linked inalienably to superhero comics and male 
adolescent jack-off fantasies. "OK," he seems to 

102 I plan b 



be saying. "Maybe you've read in The Guardian 
about how great Maus or Jimmy Corrigan is. Maybe 
you've seen Joe Sacco's moving depiction of strife- 
torn regions in Palestine or been tempted to dip 
into Alan Moore or Frank Miller's work by the movie 
adaptations of comics like From Hell and Sin City. 
Fine. You like them, but don't know where to turn 
next. Let me help you." 

And so he does, over the course of 1 92 
beautifully presented, full-colour pages. He takes 30 
key works (Charles' Burns' Black Hole, Cerebus, the 
moving account of an Iranian woman's childhood 
and adolescence Persepolis, Raymond Briggs' 
unbearably moving portrayal of The Bomb When 
The Wind Blows, Posy Simmonds, Clowes' laconic 
Ghost World) and dedicates two pages to each. 
Each spread has text spread around it where he 
discusses various devices used, like a schoolmaster 
with his pointing stick. From there, Paul talks about 
another 1 20 graphic novels, four to each key work 
- and on top of that, another 1 20 works are listed. 
Further to this, the book is split up into chapters 
-The Superhero Condition, The Undiscovered 
Country, Of Futures And Fables - introduced by 
absorbing and historical overviews. 

Designer Peter Stanbury has done a knock-out 
job in making sure everything is presented cleanly 
and with minimum of fuss. The book itself is a work 
of art, right from the striking Dan Clowes cover 
illustration, through the hilarious Chester Brown 
comic strip introduction and the fonts used. Without 
a doubt, this book should be a mandatory purchase 
for libraries across the country. 

"The cover line has a slight element of irony, " 
explains Paul. "Stories are really what people come 



for, same as in the movies. It's saying it's worth the 
effort and energy to read a comic. A lot of people 
doubt that. We're all constantly making choices 
about what we read, what we go to see, there's 
a surfeit of choice - this book is aimed at people 
who aren't necessarily immersed in comics already, 
a new comic reader, someone who may have 
already dipped a toe in. Even now when graphic 
novels are in libraries and big book chains, a lot of 
them are still shelved according to how big they are, 
or in alphabetical order. Persepolis could easily be 
placed next to 5uffy or yet another Batman book. 

"This book gives people the maps to start 
exploring for themselves. It opens with a chapter 
called Things To Hate About Comics, because over 
the years I've come to realise many people have got 
a problem starting on a comic. People have a reflex 
that pushes them away- this book is saying try to 
lose this, because these comics will interest you. 

"It's intended to serve as a primer, pointing 
out some of the techniques used. Understanding 
comics is rather like opera or poetry, where 
you need a training wheel or water wings. Art 
Spiegelman pointed out to me recently that 
he's constantly amazed that it isn't automatically 
imprinted on us that a balloon coming out of 
someone's mouth means speech. But it's not. 

"I'm less and less interested in what film does 
with comics," Paul finishes. "The medium of comics 
works in so much more of a sophisticated way, the 
way a writer like Alan Moore can control and cast 
a spell over the reader. The reader is interacting with 
the medium much more actively than a passive 
cinemagoer. Maybe we are going to be stunned 
in years to come by fresh advances in art, film. 




literature, and music, but I think we'll be stunned 
even more by comics, because they've lagged 
behind other media. Comics have finally got an 
avant-garde, ambition and courage, and they're 
moving in directions that other media have given 
up on. We kind of know what to expect from 
a literary novel or a band, but we still don't fully 
know what comics can do - and that's what 
makes them so exciting. " 

Paul Graven and and Peter Stanbury are 
currently working on a new book, Great British 
Comics, due out in November. 
www.paulgravett.com 
www.greatbritishcomics.com 



graphic novels 



Nine Questions for From Hell creator Eddie Campbell 

What attracts you to the medium of comics? It's a medium you've stucic with all your 
adult life: why? 

"I no longer think of it as a medium of choice. It's kind of like my Scottish accent. I only 
realise I've got one when I hear myself on the radio. The comic strip form is simply my 
mode of communication with the outside world. With [recent strip] The History Of Humour 
I tried to do it as prose and text book but continually came up against brick walls. It was only 
when I launched into a comic strip version of it that it started to work and I found myself 
expressing ideas in a lively and engaging way. It's probably the same with [working with 
From Hell co-creator] Alan Moore. So many of the ideas in From Hell are actually rather 
preposterous if scrutinised in the light of day. The cartoonery of comics makes its starting 
point well outside of the bounds of humdrum reality and from there it can weave its own 
kind of magic." 

You seem drawn to classic storylines and myths - rock'n'roll clubs in Southend, 
Greek gods, serial killers and cartoons. What attracts you to the myth? 

"There's an example of what I was talking about above. The Greek God Bacchus at 4,000 
years old tells us what the world used to be like. It's all baloney, of course, but in comics, one 
can pull off this trick." 

How did you come to work with Alan Moore? 

"I've known Alan for over 20 years. Alan's way of working is to make his pick from the 
available artists and thus expand his range in ways that he could not do if drawing it himself. He 
used to draw his material himself in a very chunky underground style, but if he works through 
the hands of Dave Gibbons [Watchmen], for example, he can then achieve a monumentality 
that would not have been available to him otherwise. I'm thinking particularly of the enormous 
Watchworks construction on the Moon, which was a stunning piece of graphic visualisation. 
With me, Alan accessed an impressionistic rendering of late 19th Century London." 

Why did you decide to tackle the subject of Jack the Ripper - did you ever expect 
that your art would be turned into a movie where Johnny Depp puts on a Dick Van 
Dyke accent and Heather Graham plays the cleanest prostitute in creation? 

"As to why we chose to draw Jack the Ripper, you'll have to ask Alan about that one. 
He conceived the project. I believe he saw me as the man for the job based on my treatment, 
inashortfour-pagestory I drew of the infamous Australian 'PyjamaGirl' murder case. It took 
us 1 years to get the book finished and for seven of those the movie was in the offing. So 
many people became connected and unconnected with it along the way, including Sean 
Connery and Brad Pitt. I was glad in the end that we did have two very bankable stars, and 
any deficiency in their appropriateness to play a London detective and an Irish prostitute was 
more than made up for by the supporting cast, including Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richardson, 
Ian Holm and others." 

Comics - and I apologise for using the word to only mean American-led ones 
- went through a period of critical acceptance over a decade ago. Since then, the 
medium has barely moved on. Why? 

"Actually, the serious comic is undergoing a renaissance as we speak, with some wonderful 
books having been produced in the last couple of years including 7//T?/T?yCorr/gan, The Smartest 
Kid On Earth by Chris Ware, which won The Guardian's first book award in England, Joe 
Sacco's5afe/\rea; Gorazde, which won a Guggenheim Scholarship, and Daniel Clowes' 
Ghost World, which of course was also made into a film, a most excellent one." 

What do you think it was about your, and Daniel Clowes', work that particularly 
attracted the movie-makers? 

"The movie makers have been dipping into the world of comics for quite some time but 
usually for the big over-the-top blockbusters, including Batman, TheX-Men and Blade. From 
Hell and Ghost World were Hollywood's first ventures into the more literary graphic novels. In 
this respect Ghost World is a much more valuable event in that it shows we have material that 
is very rich and human and original. As From Hell the movie simplified the story into a crime 
thriller, it didn't work quite so well. Butwe shouldn't be looking to Hollywood to justify our 
worth. The graphic novel as it is happening now is a significant cultural movement." 

Did you feel exploitative while drawing the comic? Did it give you nightmares? 

"Given that I finished the work and have a different perspective on it now, I've read quite 
a bit of the writings of William Gull, and feel somewhat guilty for having maligned the great 
man. Readers of the book should think of Gull as a fictitious personage of Alan Moore's 
invention. In this respect, the character is Alan's most significant psychological creation since 
Rorschach in Watchmen. As to the nightmares, after the first couple of chapters it was all 
just ink to me. In fact, I thought the violence in the movie was most comical and unreal. What 



'It's like my Scottish accent. The comic strip form is simply 
my mode of communication with the outside world' 



I have difficulty watching is documentaries of heart surgery you get occasionally on TV. I faint 
onto the floor when those things come on. " 

Do you see any parallels between your work and Ghostworldl 

"Only in so far as the two books are part of the vanguard of the current graphic novel 
movement. Other than that, the two works are very different. Indeed, that is the most singular 
feature of this upsurge, that there is such a variety and individuality among these books. Others 
include The Jew Of New York by Ben Katchor, Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks, Berlin by Jason 
Lutes and Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds. " 

Given that your work very much deals in the realms of already established myths, 
how much preparation time do you spend on any one comic? 

" I don't usually do preparations specifically for a book. I usually find that I've done it just 
because I have become obsessed with a subject." 



plan b 1 103 



media 




the book of the film of the book of the future 

Words: Sophie Mayer 



Through a time loop lightly: new movie books reflect and refract 



Michel Gondry gives me nightmares. 

I work in a bookstore where books are always 
moving. In my Gondry-esque nightmares, that's 
literal. Shelves rearrange themselves, folding 
customers and essential titles inside them. The 
fabric of reality- which, in my head, is composed 
of books - crumbles. It becomes a film. 

Cinema springs from two traditions: the Lumiere 
Brothers' desire to record the world 'as is', and 
Georges Melies' vision of the medium of the 
impossible. Both traditions rely on ever-improving 
technology to achieve their aims, and each 
innovation - colour, sound, handheld cameras, 
video, DV, non-linear editing - seems to promise 



Time is film's dirty 
secret and technology 
is its chainsaw 



film's future perfect, and thus the perfection of 
human imagination. 

People who write about film also fall into two 
divergent traditions: those who believe that film is 
going to hell in a handheld camera; and those who 
seek pixel paradise, whether in the name of realism 
or realms of the unreal. But curmudgeons and 
cheerleaders agree: film has a function, and that 
function is to show humanity its future. Whether 
documentary reality or science fiction star wars are 
strafing the screen, the images tell us about- and 
have the power to shape - what happens next. 

The future, of course, starts in the past, as every 
thriller viewer knows: the stage is set by eerie voices 



and images setting up the fall. So who is the master 
criminal behind film's contemporary machinations? 
Hitchcock, argues John Orr in Hitchcock And 20th 
Century Cinema (Wallflower). Orr's argument is 
reflected in the central concerns of two new Short 
Cuts from Wallflower, Mark Bould's Film Noir 
and Holly Willis' New Digital Cinema: surveillance 
paranoia, self-reflexivity, crises of identity, Melies- 
like trompesl'oeil, and increasingly baroque 
narratives of crime and misdemeanours. 

Yet every digital development, argues Willis, 
offers filmmakers closer access to truer crime on 
meaner streets. Documentary's resurgence suggests 
that viewers want the truth 24 frames a second, 
as Jean-Luc Godard put it. But as his fellow radical 
filmmaker Chris Marker retorted: not cinema verite, 
but cine, ma verite. And the truth, as Catherine 
Lupton argues thoroughly in Memories Of The 
Future (Reaktion), is that Marker, who made 
documentaries about the Sixties socialist revolutions 
in Latin America, is not clamouring for Moore truth. 

Instead, he is reclassifying/declassifying his 
archives in anticipation of the future of the medium, 
creating projects that are access all areas, turning 
the viewer into an active editor of a new, non-linear, 
associative film. Lupton claims that Marker's films 
- most famously Sans 5o/e/7- allow the viewer to 
construct her own image-chains (although the book 
takes this too literally by not captioning its images). 
Marker films television, feeds film into computer 
processors, rewinds and arrests into still frames. 

This is the power of the new digital era: film 
stripped back to the frame. For Laura Mulvey, this 
spells Death 24xA Second (Reaktion). For Willis, 
co-curator of RESFEST, it is the moving image's 



constant moving on, a techno-hunger built into the 
medium from the first flicker of photography's fast- 
forward. Film and science have never seemed more 
intertwined than in Willis' persuasive account of 
the uptake of biggerbetterfastermore technologies 
- even as these are scratch-perverted to break down 
'the real'. Mulvey sees realism as film's way of trying 
to stop the spiral of time present into time past. For 
her, filmmakers are the mad scientists of Marker's 
LaJetee, trying to send the main character forward 
into the past to save the future. 

Christopher Frayling's entertaining Mad, Bad 
And Dangerous: The Scientist And The Cinema 
(Reaktion) has no citation for Marker's bizarre 
boffos. But it does include Doc Brown {Back To The 
Future) among its Einsteinian inventors, although 
Frayling claims that the old shock-headed genius 
is on his way out, along with time travel. Perhaps 
aliens fascinate us more than time's loopy entrails. 

As Bould notes in his short, sharp study, the 
best of neo-noir - Sin City, Pulp Fiction - uses the 
time-trap, tripwire narrative switchbacks pioneered 
by Hitchcock. Orr's resonant account calls out 
the Hitch in David Lynch, whose most recent films 
have tied time in knots. Working backwards from 
the present into an impossible future in which 
everything meshes, these films chop time up 
like a dead body. Time is film's dirty secret and 
technology is its chainsaw. 

Maybe this is why Wallflower cunningly titled 
its pocket-size film guides Short Cuts: the cuts 
anatomise the body of film, then reassemble it into 
a Frankensteinian monster seeking to understand 
itself. Willis argues that we're meant to see the 
seams, to understand the trick of the time machine. 
Mulvey argues that it's because we can't see them 
that film can collapse and restructure our psyches. 

So our 'spotless minds' re-enter the (cinematic) 
past as a moveable film set, one that can be endlessly 
reconstructed by memory and fantasy to invent our 
futures. Film has been long associated with dreams, 
and these books are in some sense dream books: 
both notations on night-visions, and also books 
formed as if in dreams. 



104 1 plan b 



media 




these are the flames that drown the water 

Words: SF Said 



troubles in the heartland 

Words: Tom Charity 



Many Abu Asad's explosive new film 
Paradise Now 



Two new American indies tackle the Union's 
shades of red and blue 



It's a sunny day. Two guys are sitting 
on a hillside, listening to music, 
chatting about girls. They're pretty 
cool. One of them looks a bit like 
Devendra Banhart. There's coffee 
and jokes and smokes going round; 
they're getting on with being 
young and alive, like you do, 
when -BOOM! 

There's an explosion, somewhere 
in the distance. Both guys flinch. 
But then they get on with their 
stuff, like nothing unusual has 
happened. And nothing unusual 
has happened, because these guys 
are young Palestinians, and in the 
place that they live - Nablus, in 
the occupied West Bank -things 
going boom are not big news; 
not the stuff of 9/1 1 , or 7/7. More 
like 24/7. 

And what would that do to you? 
How do you get on with being young 
and alive, with things like that going 



what drove Palestinians to suicide 
bombing. All kinds of shit came 
down on her head for saying 
that. An Israeli official said it was 
wrong to try and understand, 
categorically wrong. 

And I thought to myself, "Is 
that what you reckon? Really? 
Maybe that's why things are as bad 
as they are." 

Paradise Now never for a 
moment condones killing of any 
kind whatsoever. All its Palestinian 
characters hold to a premise which 
you may or may not agree with 
-that the Israeli occupation is unjust 
and illegal and should end right 
now-buttheyall feel differently 
about it. Some are into dialogue, 
peace and coexistence. Some are 
into violence. Some just want to 
watch TV and play football in the 
streets. There's all sorts of people 
here. A whole society, complex and 



What ddwe do? What should we 
do? What can we do? 



down every day? That's the question 
at the heart of Paradise Now. Yeah, 
you can call it a film about suicide 
bombers if you like. Butldon'tthink 
that's right. 'Suicide bombers' - it 
defines them to the exclusion of all 
else; it makes them sound so strange. 
Insane fanatics; people who are not 
like you and me; people we could 
never understand. And these two 
guys -they're just gc/ys. Guys in 
a desperate, hopeless situation 
they cannot live with any more. 
I remember, a few years ago, 
Cherie Blair said she could understand 



rich, constantly debating: what do 
we do? What should we do? What 
can we do? 

So yeah. This film tries to 
understand what drives people 
who are very much like you and 
me into doing something 
unimaginable. Itdoesn'ttell us 
the answers, or what to think. It 
just tries to understand. And maybe 
all kinds of shit will come down on 
my head for saying this - but it seems 
to me that's precisely why this film 
matters, more than any other film 
I've seen this year. 



Introspection isn't a traditional 
Hollywood attribute, but a good many 
recent releases suggest American 
cinema may be looking in on itself for 
a change. Geographically speaking, 
there's a new interest in what 
sophisticates like to call 'the fly-over 
states': Indiana {A History Of Violence); 
Kansas (Capote); Kentucky {Wall< The 
Line); Minnesota {North Country); 
Montana {Brol<ebacl< Mountain); 
Tennessee (l/l/a//c The Line; Hustle And 
Flow) and so forth (Transamerica). 



In both films a man in his early 
thirties returns -reluctantly -to 
hearth and home. In Junebug George 
(Alessandro Nivola) has brought his 
wife Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) 
to meet his folks in North Carolina. 
They're modest people who've 
probably never ventured out of the 
state and wouldn't see the reason to 
do such a thing. The cosmopolitan 
Madeleine is a source of wonder 
(to her pregnant sister-in-law) and 
suspicion (to everyone else), and 



Morrison nudges the cultural 
mismatch into comic waters some 
have called Chekhovian 



Welcome to the Red States. Bush 
country. A cynic might suggest 
Hollywood was cultivating a market 
it had (mis)taken for granted - its 
own backyard. But let's be generous 
and suggest that, confronted with 
the most divisive administration since 
Nixon's, filmmakers are genuinely 
curious to explore the rifts opening 
up across the Union. 

And while there's some social 
criticism here {North Country and 
Brokeback), the liberal elite is getting 
its share of knocks too (Capote). Two 
new independent movies stand out 
by standing back. Phil Morrison's 
Junebug and Ira Sachs' Forty 
Shades Of Blue don't brandish 
a pre-determined agenda, but take 
the faltering pulse of the heartland 
through close observation of subtle 
gestures, husbands and wives, fathers 
and sons, families not quite broken 
but definitely feeling the strain. 



Morrison nudges the cultural 
mismatch into comic waters more 
than one critic has called Chekhovian. 

Forty Shades Of Blue is a more 
somber, muted affair. Michael (Darren 
Burrows) shows up late for an award 
ceremony honouring his old man (Rip 
Torn), an obstreperous, overbearing 
Memphis record producer. But his 
presence is as much a ploy to get away 
from an ailing marriage as it is a mark 
of respect to his philandering father. 
In fact he gets on much better with 
the old man's Russian girlfriend Laura 
{Last Resort's Dina Korzun), a willowy, 
disaffected blonde whose loneliness 
he compounds with his interest. 

Very different in tone, the 
films share a sage, patient and 
compassionate eye. They know that 
just because nothing is happening, 
it doesn't mean nothing is going on; 
that what we intuit runs deeper than 
anything we can be told. 



plan b 1 105 



media 




filmmaker's dispatch: sixty watts and counting 

Words: Hope Dickson Leach 



our clouded hills 

Words: Henry K Miller 



Julien Temple and the great 
Glastonbury swindle 



Lately I've been filing tax returns for 
a New York producer. Not exactly 
what I went to film school for, but it 
fits the remit of my US visa. Peeling 
off my overcoat inside his apartment, 
I hear him call out from the office: 
"Can you change lightbulbs?" I stop. 
Think: How many directors does it 
take to change a lightbulb? Want to 
smile, but it's hard. 

The lightbulb joke will be familiar 
to those who live their lives by call- 
sheets. There's a whole series. How 
many DoPs does it take to change 
a lightbulb? 'One. No, two. No. . . 
how many do we have on the truck?' 
-something DoPs are known to say, 
ergo funny. The answer for directors 
is, 'Just one more, guys, I promise'. 
The implication being that we are 
never satisfied. Perhaps, less kindly, 
that we are never sure. 



five years, I'm not sure I'm that 
American yet. 

Luckily, as well as my important 
electrical work, I'm also finishing 
my thesis film. It's a short film about 
a group of plane-crash survivors who 
return to the crash site every year 
to re-enact the tragedy. We shot 
in upstate New York last summer. 
June saw me storming over hills and 
through woods, leading a crew of 
technicians covered in tick bites, 
convincing my actors that however 
silly they look with blood-smeared 
faces, they'll make it work if they do 
what I say. Terrifying chaos. 

Nine months later, as we pull 
together final sound effects and start 
working on the colour timing of our 
cunningly shot day-for-dawn footage, 
the movie starts to make sense. As 
does what I'm doing. It doesn't matter 



Kneeling on the floor beholden to 
a sweaty man is not something I tell 
my parents about 



According to my therapist, 
we generate self-esteem through 
surmounting challenges. My current 
challenge is the non-challenge of 
doing menial work- without going 
nuts. The lightbulb? Easy really. 
But taking notes as my boss pedals 
on his 'Life Cycle'? Harder. I'm 
not 1 8 any more, and kneeling 
on the floor beholden to a sweaty 
man is not something I tell my 
parents about. It's a perverse 
mind that can conjure self-esteem 
from something so humiliating 
and, despite having been here 



that I'm making almost minimum 
wage at age 30, with two Master's 
degrees. Instead I'm on the edge of 
my seat as I prepare to show my movie 
to an audience of strangers. For every 
compromise I have to make to get it 
up on the screen, it'd better be good. 
It'd better be perfect. Are those call- 
sheet pranksters right? Is this director 
unsatisfied? So far... Absolutely. But 
unsure? Definitely not. 

Hope Dickson Leach 's last short film, 
Ladies In Waiting, is currently playing 
at festivals around the world. 



Julien Temple's documentary 
starts off ambiguously, intercutting 
magic-hour shots of the mythic 
Tor -shot by Nic 'Walkabout Roeg 
in the early Seventies - with digicam 
footage of today's bluetoothed 
youth slouching toward Castle 
Cary, all to a plummy recital of 
'Jerusalem'. Has it gone horribly 
wrong, or is this what Blake was 
getting at after all? 

The answer is in the grain 
of the images, and before long 
Glastonburyhas resolved itself 
as a conventional parable of 
commercialisation, making the 
growth of The Fence an index of lost 
edge, another rock'n'roll swindle. 
Perhaps surprisingly for a filmmaker 
long associated with The Sex Pistols, 
Temple is all about the ur-hippy 
Glasto legend. Earth Mothers Are 
Easy this ain't. 

Pitiless logic dictates that much 
of the film is therefore given over to 
the custodians of the True Festival 
Spirit-jugglers, drug bores, rural 
nostalgists and the like. Temple 
had 700 hours of home movies 



words to 'The First Of The Gang 
To Die', and the film never really 
gets into what keeps this silent 
majority -whose allegiance to 
the True Festival Spirit is doubtful 
- hammering the redial for a morning 
each spring. 

At its best when given some 
thematic purpose, as in a pointed 
montage that moves between the 
security guards beating up some 
gatecrashers and Bobby Gillespie 
yelping 'Swastika Eyes' on the 
main stage (though 'Kill All Hippies' 
would have been funnier), the 
music in general is a letdown 
-and notjust because 'you had 
to be there'. 

Temple's lack of connection 
is clearest in his treatment of Pulp's 
epochal (I was there, watching 
it on television) rendition of 
'Common People' from 1 995. 
The song, performed at that time 
and in that place, engaged the 
Avalon audience in a communal 
reckoning with the regional and 
class implications of Glasto's 
pastoral mystique, freeing the 



'Kill All Hippies' 

would have been funnier 



to play with, and, it seems, took 
the wackiest bits from each and 
everyone. 

The effect is a welly-clad Ibiza 
Uncovered mtU slightly less bangin' 
tunes, an onslaught of eye-catching 
ker-ay-ziness and nudity. The rank- 
and-file are left filth-splattered 
interlopers in the image storm, 
occasionally seen mouthing the 



festival from the long-dominant 
pre-industrial ideal. 

In G/astonbtv/y it's just another 
classic tune, the performance's 
integral charge neutralised by a brace 
of pointless insert-shots taken from all 
overthe place, all nuance eliminated. 

For all that, it's a rare film where 
you find yourself scrutinising the 
screen for people you know. 



106 1 plan b 



media 



games 




Sony/SCEI, Playstation 2 

It's crazy, the things we'll do in the name 
of love. Some of us won't think twice before 
choosing to move across the world to be with 
the one we love. Some of us won't hesitate 
to give a kidney to the person who sorely 
needs it - and whom we sorely need. 

But If you had to murder 1 6 people, 
who had never done anything to you, to keep 
your one and only alive, would you do it? 
If you had to murder giant stone fur beasts, 
entirely unconcerned with you, with only the 
possibility that might keep a young girl alive, 
would you do it? 

This game makes you feel like you really 
have taken on such a task; each murder is 
a terrible, titanic battle. The struggle for love 
can be clumsy, confusing and frustrating, 
but your trials can be rewarded with more 
beauty and wonder than you have ever seen, 
in the form of the colossi - even as you are 
asked to destroy them. You may get her 
back, but are you willing to pay that price? 
Mathew Kumar 




Nintendo DS 

There's a slightly odd undertone to the latest 
title in the Mario series, which is probably 
why I haven't started this review by typing 
'girl power' in all-caps followed by a 
succession of exclamation marks. It's 
something to do with the 'Vibe Sceptre', 
the magical device that Bowser has stolen 
to facilitate his nefarious plans. Not spoiling 
anything, but the epilogue asks, "Where 
could the Vibe Sceptre be now? Is your dad 
angrierthan usual? How about your mum, 
is she happy and secretly amused about 
something? Maybe it's in your house!'" 

It's a fair enough guess they're inferring 
your mum's got a vibrator. We could take 
thatasa cheeky winkto women reclaiming 
power over their sexuality or something. If 
only the game were anything better than 
a fairly mediocre platformer with an 
annoying, gimmicky touch-screen interface. 

It's compatible with the vibration pack, 
though. Buy it foryour mum. 
Mathew Kumar 




the QQQ-tip 

words: Kieron Gillen 

Nullpointer's art games and games art 

There's two reasons why I'm here today. The first is to show 
you some pretty pictures. The second is to talk about Tom 
Betts aka Nullpointer. He's one of those renaissance men 
who makes everyone terribly jealous (musician, lecturer, 
critic and so on, the bastard!), but relevantly, he's an artist 
who often uses games as his medium. 

For the sake of the argument, can we accept that games 
might be art? Because if we don't, i) we'll be here all day 
reiterating the usual positions, and ii) and they're all fucking 
tedious positions anyway. Moving on, can we also accept 
that games and their iconography can be appropriated 
and used as part of more traditional artworks? Taking 
screenshots, design, art-styles and applying them to a new 
context is an increasingly accepted post-modernist gambit. 
It's been done. Mostly, it's a little obvious. 

What interests me about Nullpointer's work as an artist 
is that, primarily, he gets hishandsdirty ina waythatmost 
artists who play games with games simply don't.His work 
is not just about surface signifiers, but is a radical reworking 
of the games to create art. He has a coder's skills and he's 
used them to actually engage with the game. 

Take his QQQ project, which addresses the videogame 
culture of modification. It's based on Quake 3, Id's 
circa-2000 online shooter based around fast-paced 
arena-battles between improbable creatures armed with 
rocket-launchers. Because - y'know - rocket launchers 
area noble weapon for duelling. Servers -which house 
the arenas -were set up online, which players visit to 
experience the simple pleasure of seeing people explode. 
Nullpointer took this and, through some judicious alteration 
in the code and resource, turned it into a glitch fantasia. 

It's an installation piece, with a game server running 
to which players across the internet can log on. From 
their perspective, nothing is different -they're playing 
the same game as always. From the perspective of the 
people watching via a spectator mode, the screen is awash 
with a mass of rapidly changing colours and shapes -their 
match turned into abstract visuals. Except, perversely, order 
emerges, with the shape of the game becoming clear. 

As well as its being visually arresting, QQQ wrestles with 
the nature of the interactivity of games themselves. When 
Nullpointer did the first QQQ presentations, the server was 



full of combatants and the visuals constantly changed as 
a large population caused plenty of visual information to 
be eviscerated by his modifications. Now, with the game 
far older and most of the gaming population having 
moved on, when it runs it's a ghost town, a virtually empty 
battlefield where occasionally someone will log on, wander 
around leaving the barest of shapes, get bored and sod off. 

QQQ is interested in games, in a way which most 
art games and game art really isn't. It also looks great. 

I've talked to several people about veterans of 
long-departed videogame great Looking Glass Software 
(in terms of influence and at-the-time obscurity, think 
videogames' Velvet Underground), and an idea that 
resurfaces is how their games were built around the 
concept of the designer/programmer: rather than 
separating these two roles, they were often combined, 



Hands dripping in codes, 
ideas cascading from 
the eyes 



leading to a concentrated knowledge of how the two pillars 
of games interact- both the artist and the artisan together. 
Because of this - in the same way that the most true, direct 
comics are created by a single individual -the expression is 
so much the sharper. 

Nullpointer strikes me as someone approaching 
the same point, from the opposite direction. He's done 
things that exist as traditional games - his Endless Fire 
simultaneously creates graceful visuals and a driven 
generative shooting experience. He's done music, including 
a lot of generative material. I return to the word: engaged. 
Hands dripping in codes, ideas cascading from the eyes, 
when I look at Nullpointer's work I think of how wide the 
boundaries these thing called 'games' really are, and 
what treasures could be secreted away within them. 
www.q-q-q.net 
www.nullpointer.co.uk 
www.codespace.co.uk 
http://www.r4nd.org 



plan b 1 107 



media 




dear diaries 

Words: Miss AMP 
Illustration: Nathan Fletcher 



A look at the demise of the online journal, and an interview with an early pioneer of the form 



Blogs. Social software. Communities of interest. 
Tagging. Del.icio.us. What yummy little words these 
are. What fun to throw around. "If there is new 
talent out there," an editorial bigwig at Random 
House remarked recently during a marketing 
meeting, " it is to be found not via traditional 
methods, but on the web. " A friend - at the time 
a lowly rights assistant at the publishing house 
- reported this to me with a shudder. She'd recently 
had the misfortune to sit through to/eDeiour 
(The Intimate Adventures Of A London Call Girl) 
and wasn't so sure. Plus, she said, if not just literary 
agents but huge publishing houses had woken up 
to the fact that "emerging artists might be using 
emerging technologies to explore new forms", 
as the jargon-driven bigwig had said, how much 
emerging can there be left to do? "When the 
mainstream starts combing the 'blogosphere' 
for talent, " she continued, her voice carving 
careful quotemarks around the buzzword, "you 
knowthat means personal publishing on the web 
is effectively dead." 

Of course, the figures tell a different story. 
The top estimate puts the number of blogs in the 
blogosphere at around 1 million. Bloggers become 
media darlings, from celebrity gossips (Gawker) 
to 'profane pervert Arabs' (Salam Pax). Bloggers 
are starting to be granted press credentials to cover 
major political events through the same legitimate 
channels as print journalists, while blogs-to-books, 
such as the aforementioned Belle DeJour, Jessica 
Cutler's Washingtonienne, and Baghdad Burning, 
by an Iraqi woman who goes by the pseudonym 
Riverbend, have become increasingly common. 
Personal publishing on the web isn't dead. But 



a particular form of it is - or at least, has been forced 
to change beyond all recognition. The online journal. 

Once upon a time, before the media-sexy 
concept of the blog was even born, online journals, 
described as 'the retarded older cousin of blogs' (by 
author Wendy McClure), lumbered the web. These 
were the days of Netscape 1 . 1 ; the days when tables 
had 3D borders, everything was divided by 1 px lines, 
and the background pattern was king. The online 
journal, a spill-your-guts-below approach to 
personal publishing, was an all-out confessional 
splurge; a place where the author could enjoy the 
transgressive thrill of sharing personal information, 
without the need for anonymity. In the early days 
of the web there was no such thing as blogging 
software: no comments, trackback, or any other 
networking functionality. (The first automated 
blogging tools weren't released until 1 999.). Just 
an HTML page giving details of a stranger's life. An 
archive. Maybe an email address. And that was it. 

Where blogs are mainly about looking outwards: 
cataloguing links and commenting upon them 
-journals were about looking inwards: charting 
the inner landscape and immediate surrounds 
of the author. Online journals spilled secrets 
indiscriminately, like a dog on heat bleeding all over 
the kitchen floor. The concept of the 'friends-only' 
entry was meaningless; at the time, it was highly 
unlikely that any of the writer's real-life (or 'RL' 
- how quaint the term seems these days) friends 
and acquaintances were online, so writing a diary 
and posting it in cyberspace seemed more private 
than writing it in a paper journal and hiding it 
under the mattress, and, paradoxically, far less 
ripe for discovery. 



However, the best online journals from the early 
days of the web were more than the mere solipsistic, 
reflexive self-analyses that the term 'journal' or 
'diary' might imply - they attempted to describe 
scenes and present fragments of the author's day- 
to-day life in ways other readers could relate to and 
enjoy, a form of writing sometimes described as 
'creative non-fiction'; applying literary techniques 
to actual situations. Onlinejournalsvvere designed 
to be read, but only by complete strangers, often 
at great geographical distance. What a lark: all the 
thrills of anonymity; all the benefits of friendship 
(a hassle-free friendship comprised of guestbook 
comments, occasional emails, and instant 
messenger conversations, with no potentially 
troublesome real-life commitments; actual face- 
to-face interaction was inessential, maybe even 
undesirable). The online journal was able to thrive 
precisely because of the lack of social networks 
which now drive the most successful online 
communities such as MySpace or LiveJournal. 
Being private in public meant exposure without 
accountability- all the fun, none of the fear. 
Meanwhile, the reader had the chance to watch 
the narrative of someone's life unfold, at a safe 
distance, in regularly updated episodes - part novel, 
part reality show, part holiday in someone else's 
life. Not bad for the price of an internet connection. 

The increased popularity means that the freedom 
of the web as online journallers knew it back then 
has been lost forever. Most people who've ever kept 
an online journal have had the experience of it being 
read by someone who was never intended to see its 
contents (usually a real-life friend, acquaintance or 
lover) -the intruder's rationale being, quite logically. 



108 1 plan b 



media 



in for a pound 

Wendy McClure's/'/T7 A/ot The A/ei/i/ Me, is based upon her online journal 
Poundy.com. We catch up with the author to discuss the internet, novels, 
narrative, and the connections between them 



Fragments of lives 
at the cusp of the 
millennium frozen 
forever like a modern- 
day Pompeii 



that if it was private, it should never be on the 
internet. The power of Google's search function 
means that if your journal is or has ever been linked 
to your real name in any way, it will be found by 
a potential or current employer (or worse, lover) 
with all the repercussions that that implies. And, 
quite simply, the form has been devalued by the 
millions upon millions of people (particularly but 
not exclusively on LiveJournal) who use their online 
journals as a forum to explore their self-loathing, 
self-harm scars, and penchant for bad poetry. 

So where now, for the online journal? While a 
few journals, such as Wendy McClure's Poundy.com, 
have been published as novels (McClure's I'm Not 
The New Me), the generally poor sales of journals- 
to-books suggest that the inherently fractured, 
episodic nature of web writing doesn't translate 
particularly well to the more sustained narrative 
required by the novel. Most early online journals 
have either disappeared, or morphed into blogs. 

Perhaps those drawn to the art of being private 
in public will return to fanzines: paradoxically, print 
fanzine publication now offers the same advantages 
of early internet publishing: the chance to be private 
in public, spilling secrets to a select, understanding 
audience. Maybe journal writers will finally make 
the leap into fiction, channeling their secrets into 
thinly veiled representations of themselves. 

Or maybe onlinejournalswill simply remain 
forever archived on the Wayback Machine; 
fragments of lives at the cusp of the millennium 
frozen forever like a modern-day Pompeii: a heart- 
breaking testament to the innocence of the early 
days of the web. 

The AMP Diary, www.ampnet.co.uk, 1999-2003 



"Online journals are the slightly 
retarded older cousins of blogs." 
Can you expand upon this 
comment [made in an interview 
onzulkey.com]? 

"I guess I was being a little coy with 
the 'retarded' part -what I meant was 
that online journals appear to be part 
of a slower-paced web culture than 
the blog scene: they usually cultivate 
a snnaller and more faithful readership. 
And their communities aren't quite 
as gadget-obsessed as bloggers are: 
usually they're a few steps behind 
when it comes to the new stuff like 
RSS feeds or podcasts. Both online 
journalers and bloggers are always 
trying to come up with new ways 
to read each other's stuff and be read 
in turn. The difference is that bloggers 
usually do it through newtechnology, 
whereas online journalers do it through 
new ideas: memes and things like, 
'Oh, let's all answer the same five 
questions today'." 

How much did you want to 
recreate the experience of 'web 
reading' in I'm Not The New Mel 

" If anything, I tried to write the 
book so that it didn't resemble web 
reading. There are a lot of novels 
lately that try to simulate the 'web 
experience' with all kinds of crap 
interspersed in the text: chat 
transcripts; fake webpages ; so-called 
authentic-looking emails complete 
with headers and signature files, and 
I hate that, especially when there's 
cutesy design and multiple typefaces 
involved. Do we really need to slog 
through a printed page full of screen 
names and "@" and "<" symbols and 
other junk? I did everything I could to 
make instant-message conversations 
read like dialogue; I tried to keep the 
online context clear but I didn't want to 
stress the internet-ness of it all more 
than necessary, or in gimmicky ways." 

It seems like a lot of the journals 
I was reading in 2000 - yours, 
disgruntledhousewife.com, 
maura.com, and the one I was 
writing myself - have either 
disappeared or become blogs. 
Why do you think this is? Do you 
think there's a time limit on how 
long an individual can maintain 
an online journal before they 
become exhausted? Or do you 
think it's more to do with the 
pleasures of being anonymous 
in public - and once your journal 
becomes well-known you lose 
that anonymity, which affects the 
way you write? Did you feel that 
the story you set out to tell had 
been told? Did you get bored? 

"You know, I think it's been all of 
those things at one time or another! 
The decision to go exclusively with 



a Weblog coincided with the decision 
to try and write a book - it meant 
I wanted to save some of the energy 
I was putting into those journal entries 
for something else, but I still wanted 
to be 'out there' online in some way. 
But in addition to all the personal 
or existential reasons for ditching 
a journal for a blog, there's also the 
simple technical matter of weblogs 
being automated and easier to 
maintain than journals. Back when it 
was harder and more time-consuming 
to update a site, new journal entries 
were precious; you needed to make it 
worth the effort of manually uploading 
the page. And then sometimes, after 
a couple of years of taking your own 
words too seriously, it just feels right to 
join the 'cheaper' ecomony of blogs." 

When reading a journal online, 
the hook is the usually the 
writer's personality and voice. 
There may be narrative incidents 
-break-ups, career arcs, personal 
triumphs and disasters - but 
usually it's simply the writer's 
take on things that people return 
for. Whereas with a book, though 
you may enjoy the narrator's 
voice, there traditionally needs 
to be more of a narrative arc: 
a beginning, middle and end, 
a sense of closure. Were these 
issues you struggled with 



when writing the book - creating 
a linear narrative from the 
more amorphous world of 
an online journal? 

"Yes, and it's one reason I 
decided to write about the website 
itself- to make the story of starting 
Poundy.com part of the bigger story. 
There were times when my online 
persona didn't quite fully mesh with 
my personal life, and I found myself 
telling the story of an identity crisis. 
Moreover a lot of the book's material 
came from things I never fully related 
online. Like in the journal, I'd share 
how I felt about a recent break-up, 
but of course I didn't have the 
emotional distance (or, for that 
matter, the composure, or the 
masochism) required to write an 
actual 5ce/7e about what happened. 

" Really, I couldn't have written 
I'm Not The NewMeXhe way I did 
without at least two years of 
perspective on the events. A few 
years back I had a conversation with 
a publisher who felt that my journal 
needed more plot in order to work as 
a book, and while that made perfect 
sense, it also would have been totally 
ridiculous to try and record the plot my 
life as it unfolded. I can only imagine 
it would sound so full of shit, a lot of, 
'Oh my God, I can feel my WHOLE LIFE 
CHANGING THIS VERY SECOND' and 
that sort of thing." 




plan b 1 109 



media 




better living through short- 
circuitry 

Words: Nick Bradshaw 

Pumping iron, quivering flesh in 
Shinya Tsukamoto's radical metal 
machine movies 

There's a spot tangential to Tokyo's business 
quarter, as yet unco mm em orated, where Shinya 
Tsukamoto likes to take his camera and watch the 
skyscrapers shimmer. These steel-and-glass obelisks, 
testament to humankind's corporate-rationalist 
desire for its own obsolescence, reflect and 
illuminate their inter-spaces with the cold light 
of nothing. No mystery here, they dubiously claim: 
no gravity, no biology, no ethics, no horror. 

Of course, it's not hard work to find a back alley 
where lies a cat's carcass, crawling with maggots, 
and Tsukamoto's camera often ducks around 
a corner for such relief. But watch those bipedal 
carbon-trace creatures pinballing between 
the gleaming offices, cars, gyms and designer 
apartments: in the ventricles of their hearts lurk dark 
spaces from which god knows what may pop. 

Ever since he first rammed a thick 1 0-inch metal 
bolt into his gaping thigh in 1 988's Tetsuo: The Iron 
Man (or even earlier: the previous year's featurette 
The Adven tures Of Electric Rod Boy f eatu res 
a vampiric atom bomb devised run on menstrual 
blood), Tsukamoto has been working for the 
rapprochement of these worlds of tech and flesh. 
In his younger films the meetings were effected 
with crude but potent enthusiasm. Tetsuo's young 



'Dead bodies, with 
their internal organs 
hanging out, chasing 
you at full speed' 



salaryman grew iron pimples and a raging 
killer-drill penis, like a scrap-cyborg Eraserhead; 
his blockbuster reincarnation in Tetsuo 2: Body 
Hammer 992) turbo-charged himself into an 
apocalyptic blend of Travis Bickle, Hulk and The 
Terminator. And years before Fight Club, the 
director and his brother Koji pummelled one 
another cathartically red, black and blue as rivals 
for a body-mod fetishist in Tokyo Fist 0995). 

More recently he has elected for such tools as 
small munitions and syringes (in ^998's Bullet Ballet, 
a sort of Rumblefish met by Death Wish), scalpels (in 
both 1999's Gemini, a Meiji-period classical tragedy 
casting a slum-shunning surgeon into a well of 
sexual confusion, and 2004's Vital, with its grieving 
student mortician dissecting his late girlfriend), and 
hefty vibrators and long-lensed cameras, in 2002's 
freaky sex-lib fable /\5na/:e Of 7une. (Like Michael 
Powell, Tsukamoto plays the peeping tom.) 

Others have been here before, of course, notably 
prog-human laureates Ballard and Cronenberg, 
and it's no surprise that one of Tsukamoto's 
favourite refrains is the car crash, source of literal 
and figurative lost heads from Tetsuo through 
to Vital. (Bicycles occasionally provide a comical 
counterpoint. The director describes his original 
vision for what became the atypically serene Vital as 
a film about "dead bodies, with their internal organs 
hanging out, chasing you at full speed. Even though 
you are on a bicycle, they are faster.") Attuned 
to hardcore projections of power and penetration, 
Tsukamoto may spoof our cartoon fantasies, but 
he also credits them, and the virtues of living at 
high RPM. The soul is bound with the flesh, and 
skirmishes with sex, self-mutilation and death are 




the means to tap it. Not only does the human heart 
harbour demons, but it's good to give them vent. 

Failure to heed the call of our nature is often 
linked to amnesia - repressed crimes and traumas in 
the 7etsL/o films and Tokyo Fist, buried bloodlines in 
Gemini, or simple conjugal and romantic 
disconnections in Bullet Ballet, A Snake Of June 
and Vital. Alienation and despair, rage and revenge 
reliably follow on. Indeed, history often repeats 
itself, as suggested by the litany of Jekyll-and-Hyde 
twins and doppelgangers that populate the stories. 
In Tokyo Fist, there's a lovely sequence of S/M 
absurdity that telescopes Tsukamoto's sense of 
symmetry, when his skulking character Tsuda offers 
his face to his ex-girlfriend Hizuru as a punching 
bag on first one side of an underpass, then all over 
again on the other side in mirror image. 

Tsukamoto is also a believer in high-RPM film 
syntax. His back catalogue offers a compendium of 
pixellated dolly and handheld running shots, zoom 
cuts, shaky longshots, TV-scanning and chiaroscuro 
strobe effects, smoke, filters and tints, all set to 
industrial soundtracks. In Gemini, most starkly, 
the kinetic camera is clearly a stylistic analogy to 
the dirt and corruption that infiltrates the doctor's 
pristine surgery. Tsukamoto describes his ambition 
as "wanting the audience to feel as if they are at 
a live performance" - "live" in this case standing 
for "everything but incest and Morris dancing". 

For all the emphasis on the corporeal, it's 
surprising just how alienated Tsukamoto's early 
urban works are from the greater part of nature 
- there's not even a sense of climate. Perhaps 
they're too underground, but it's something he's 
now filling in: /\ Snake Of June makes hay with 
Tokyo's midsummer downpours, whose slinky 
cascading silhouettes on windows carry through 
into Vital. "I've passed through the dark tunnel of 
the confining city," he muses; now he's after the 
feeling of " nice, fresh air" . He also confides that 
he'd like to end his life in a submarine, watching 
dolphins. "This is real," the protagonist of Vital's 
dead girlfriend whispers in his ear, as they make 
love on the beach in his dreams. "This is reality." 




110|pldnb 



media 




video stars 

Words: Everett True 

The prolific Mae Shi put The Velvet Underground to shame 
in this issue's music DVD roundup 



love is a dress that he made 

Words: Sophie Mayer 
Photography: Michael Ackerman 

Benjamin Smoke: punk meets drag 
meets poetry meets HIV 

"You think that sapphire's your colour, but 
it's not." The sartorial wisdom of Benjamin, 
singer and convenor of Atlanta GA band 
Smoke, could be aimed at filmmakers Jem 
Cohen and Peter Si lien, or atthe Benjamin 
Smoke's audience, or at himself as he shrugs 
into a turquoise taffeta silk evening gown. 
Like so many objects (Coke bottles, go karts, 
Patti Smith) caught by Cohen/Sillen's restless. 




roving camera, the dress is familiar 
Americana - prom queen Goodwill chic 

- but different. "Where does beautiful 
end and difficult start?" Benjamin muses, 
blowing smoke rings around his life as 

a drag queen and out queer below the 
Mason-Dixon line. This ain't the shiny 
Atlanta of the Olympic Games; this is poor 
white Cabbagetown, bathed in - as Smith 
sings -"straw-coloured light". 

Benjamin'salternate history of the US 

- punk meets drag meets poetry meets HIV 
-merges with and stands out from stills 
and contemplative shots of poverty, the 
poverty out of which (the film implies) 
great American music has always emerged. 
Smoke's music and the film marry perfectly, 
always just off beat, moving from quiet 
notesto a surprisingly rousing, punkfinish 
that could go on and on, ever-changing. 
That's what DVD extras are for: carrying 

on the legacy of the late musician with 
more stories, more live performances 
(including Cat Power singing 'From Fur 
City', written for Benjamin), more smoke. 

"It's betterto smoke in this life than 
the next," Benjamin sings. 

And he does, with every long-fingered 
gesture, every aphorism, every haunting 
to-camera qaze. 



I have many DVDs. I have many moods. Slut. Social 
retard. Show-off. Subversive. Snobby. Shit-faced. 
Fortunately I have one DVD that mirrors all the 
above: The Mae Shi's insanely ambitious Lock 
The Skull, Load The Gun (5RC). Coffee spills over 
keyboards. Keyboards corrupt and take flight in 
a weird tapestry of killer bats, Renaissance fairytales, 
haunted bunnies and. . .(note to self, stop lifting 
from press release). . . hour-long documentaries of 
men handing out instruments to random strangers, 
lo-fi posturing and frantic one-minute breaks of 
imagination and battered guitar strings. 

This DVD has a full-length tour documentary, the 
sort which Flaming Lips would make if they hadn't 
turned into REM when everyone's back was turned, 
and 32 fucking music videos, often filled with John 
Porcellino-style animation and psychedelic imagery, 
stop-start delay live footage and more imagination 
than one could shake a wobble board at (see 
illustrations above). It makes me happy, and 
envious: and what is modern music if not an eternal 
quest to make the bearded man stuck at home with 
a nine-month-old son and collection of James Last 
DVDs jealous? 

Speaking of which: Last was a bandleader, 
popular in the Seventies, when he used to appear 
on TV dressed in flowery suits, waggle his beard, 
and mutterto himself while behind him a full-blown 
orchestra of trombones, cornets and violins (no 
females!) and that bloody 'disco' beat played 
its heart out. Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine', 
'Yes Sir I Can Boogie', T Rex, Elvis Presley, 'Kung 
Fu Dancing'...nothing was safe from Last's 
Machiavellian gaze. Warners have released three 
volumes of the stuff. Best Of The 70s, and it's 
oddly hypnotic - must be those ties. 

Just as garish, but way more compelling is 
former Lemon Kitten Danielle Dax, captured 
live at a 1983 Camden Palace concert, 5ac/A///ss 
A// /./Ve (Cherry Red). Imagine a melange of Kate 
Bush, rockabilly, tribal beats and a little ATV 
experimentation thrown in and... nope, nothing 
like it. This isn't herfinest hour, though. 

And neither is Velvet Redux MCMXCIII{\Namers). 
Watching Lou Reed disinterestedly drawl his way 
through a clutch of Velvet Underground classics 
- 'Pale Blue Eyes', 'Heroin' etal- at an ill-judged 
Nineties reunion concert is not my idea of a good 
time. (Although I couldn't help but feel a few 
tremulous butterflies when drummer Moe Tucker 
stepped up to the mic to sing.) And neither is 
watching a bunch of over-inflated London egos 
prance around in 1 978 on the atrociously recorded 



Jazz + excitement = 
Australian punk rock 



The Punk Rock Movie (EMI). Wayne County? 
Eater? The Clash? Get to fuck! It's a mark of how 
bad this video is, that I'm unable even to watch such 
genuinely exciting and innovative bands as Subway 
Sect, ATV and The Slits. Sticking a video camera in 
my office at night while I perform muffled karaoke 
versions from the first Wet Dog demo with the lights 
off would be more entertaining. 

Better are former Carter USM frontman Jim 
Bob's snappily-titled Live From London and The 
Belle Stars' Sign Of The Times (both Cherry Red). 
I'm not saying they're good -just better. The first 
features deadpan social commentary singalongs 
bellowed by a crowd of football fans. The second 
(live, from 1 984) features bad Eighties poodle 
hairdos and the goddamn terrible 'The Clapping 
Song' - Belle Stars were the absolute runts of the 
2-Tone litter. 

Skipping past the fine Dusty Springfield 
documentary Fu//C//'c/e (Universal) and exhilarating 
early footage of Elvis Presley on Elvis '56 
(Wienerworld) - we come to Ed Kuepper The Man, 
The Music, The Magic (Hot). Whoa ! More like The 
God, The Genius, The Guitar. This is great, if only 
for the Laughing Clowns videos included: a DVD 
brimming over with harmony, squalling saxophones, 
tribal dance beats and guitar-led dementia. The 
equation here seems to be jazz + excitement = 
Australian punk rock. 

Just as fine is Violent Femmes' No, Let's Start 
0\/er (Universal). Humour, communal singing, the 
Horns of Dilemma, frenzied guitar work, idyllic 
Jonathan Richman-style melodies. . .what doesn't 
this 1 984 Lyceum Theatre concert have? 

Well, Calvin Johnson for one. The Shield 
/\/'ounc/7'/7e/C(BlankStare)isan oddly unsatisfying 
movie - it interviews all my mates: Steve Fisk, Calvin, 
Lois Maffeo, Rich Jensen, Galaxie 500's Dean 
Wareham, Slim Moon, and incorporates grainy live 
footage of the legendary 1991 International Pop 
Underground convention, including Beat Happening 
and Mecca Normal live -and indeed attempts 
to tell the story of Olympia's K Records. But by 
concentrating on the third generation bands on 
the label - self-consciously twee acts like The Softies 
- it does Calvin and K a great disservice, ignoring 
its genuine innovation and insurrection. 

A real shame. 



planb|111 



media 



art 



weird tales 

Artist Mikko Canini 

visits Tate Britain's Gothic 
Nightmares exhibition in 
search of cheap thrills and 
discovers not a chainsaw 
insight 



In 1 665, Isaac Newton performed 
an experiment which involved the 
insertion of a sturdy needle into his 
eye socket, twisting and poking 
with varying intensity at the back 
of his eyeball. Newton's experiment 
was the result of a commitment to 
understanding the mechanisms that 
rule experience, and was based on the 
idea that the universe is an ordered 
place whose laws can be understood 
through scientific experimentation 
and reason. This idea, of course, was 
the foundation of the Enlightenment, 
which was to have a deep effect on 
all areas of thought from science to 
politics. By the end of 1 8th Century 
most of Europe was firmly committed 
to the destruction of the irrational 
impulses of the Dark Ages. 

It was in this climate of self- 
consciously progressive thought 
that, in 1 782, the Swiss-born London 
painter Henry Fuseli exhibited 
'The Nightmare'. This painting of 
a hairy naked troll pensively sitting 




at the Tate's 'Gothic Nightmares' 
exhibition: the pictures just ain't scary. 
In spite of numerous representations 
of murder, ghosts, violence and 
perversion, an awful lot of gothic art 
is, when judged by its ability to horrify, 
about equal to the scariest episode of 
Scooby-Doo. In part, this is a problem 



The beginning of a new genre 
focused on life's dirtier corners 



on the torso of a sleeping woman 
achieved instant notoriety with an 
audience accustomed to landscapes 
and portraits. With its suggestive 
menace, brooding atmosphere 
and perverse sexuality, this painting 
couldn't have been more opposed 
to the dominant ideology: nature, 
human or otherwise, was supposed 
to be rational and understandable. 

One way to think about the impact 
of 'The Nightmare' is to compare it 
to the release of The Texas Chainsaw 
Massacre (1 974), both in terms of 
its aggressive representation of the 
irrational and its wider effect on 
popular culture. LikeTobe Hooper's 
film, 'The Nightmare' signaled the 
beginning of a new genre focused 
on life's dirtier corners. But Hooper's 
film highlights the basic problem that 
confronts the contemporary audience 



of medium. The primary models for 
contemporary horror fiction are 
literature and film: narratives. But 
there is also the problem of history. 
Sooner or later horror becomes 
distorted by the corrosive effects 
of time, which transforms the 
terrifying into the ridiculous. 

We can understand this 
transformation from scary to silly via 
the historical evolution of the idea of 
weirdness. Weird was defined as the 
supernatural or fantastic. At first this 
expressed itself through pictures of 
muscular men battling in scenes from 
antiquity, but eventually resolved into 
the representation of fairies, goblins, 
and the like. But, while we still like 
weird, it's now something a little more 
everyday and a lot less theatrical. 

However, the vein of camp that 
runs through the gothic makes it 



immune to such criticism. The early 
Goths were comfortable with the 
inherent silliness of the genre. But 
this balance of horrific and silly could 
only be sustained for so long and, as 
always happens with horror in cultural 
production, it was rapidly overtaken 
by satire. By 1 830, the closing date of 
the Tate's survey, the gothic no longer 
represented a subversive questioning 
of the limits of the Enlightenment's 
rationalist universe, but a conservative 
critique of the superstitious beliefs of 
those who refused to acknowledge 
scientific progress. 

It is precisely in the opposition of 
gothic horror with enlightenment 
rationality, that I locate my own 
antipathy to the gothic sensibility. 
With its emphasis on ancient spectres 
and gloomy atmosphere, the gothic 
represented horror as something 
outside daily reality. Horror haunted 
the past, structured nightmares or 
was sequestered in creaking castles, 
but it never made itself visible in the 
bright light of the afternoon sun. 

Mikko Canini is a London-based 
Canadian artist whose video and 
installation work toys with the 
horrific, the absurd and the obscene. 
'Gothic Nightmares' runs at the Tate 
Britain until 1 May For details see 
www.tate.org.uk 




27.04.06-03.06.06, Norwich Art 
Gallery, St George Street, Norwich 

The only good work in the British art triennial 
currently on display at the Tate Britain is John 
Stezaker's series of collages. Stezaker has 
been cutting outthe silhouettes of film stars 
and filling the void left in the absence of 
faces in different ways since the Seventies. 
His recent work replaces flat, airbrushed 
facial contours with the suggestive depths 
of vegetation, cliffs and rivers standing 
in for nose bridges and hairlines, and 
formulates a new language for the landscape 
of our desires. Using a technique as simple 
as it is considered - an image of nature 
superimposed on the visages of past celebrity 
- these new works inscribe our culture with 
a future history of its fossilised remains. 




30.03.06-14.05.06, South London 
Gallery, 65 Peckham Road, London 

Despite the clear commercial appeal of 
painting, painters live in constant fear of 
their work ending up on someone's exposed 
brick wall, doing little more than matching 
the carpet. Nigel Cooke takes that wall and 
negates its perfect, naturalistic rendition 
with the application of crudely drawn graffiti. 
Tearing spatial wormholes in the canvas, 
he uses different orders of representation to 
call into question the entire bizarre practice 
of replicating the world with pigment that 
humanity is so obsessed with. 




07.04.06-1 3.05.06, Gladstone Gallery, 
51 5 West 24 Street, New York, NY 

Matthew Barney always managed to tiptoe 
between institutional recognition (for his 
classical references and critiques of American 
attitudes towards sexuality) and cult status 
(for his popular culture landscapes of 
motorcycles and Bond girls, and, yeah, 
because he's dating Bjork). This is while he 
deceived everyone into accepting his inflated 
prices, selling videos for a million dollars 
a pop to major museums and billionaire 
collectors and leaving his followers with 
faded bootleg copies. Barney's new work 
references whaling, Shinto and the Japanese 
tea ceremony, in a crude psychoanalytical 
metaphor for sexual repression and restraint. 
Pil and Galia Kollectiv 



112|planb 



media 



comics 



searching for sandwiches in dimension zero 

Words: AlistairFitchett 



Coincidences, teen dramas, rainbow vomit and sci-fi noir: 
catching up on comics 



I had a copy of Alex Robinson's Tricked {Top Shelf) 
sitting on my shelf for ages, unread. It gets like that 
sometimes, the rush of media being so insistent. 
And you know that Time-Turners are only wizard 
fiction, no matter how much you might yearn for 
one. So I end up with piles of books and records that 
gather dust, waiting for the day when there aren't a 
million other things to be done; when I can curl up in 
a corner with a mug of rooibos and immerse myself. 

So it took a while before I could catch up with 
Tricked, but I'm glad I waited. Tricked is a Carver- 
esque series of character studies, where lives all 
inexorably build narratives towards a flashpoint 
of meeting; a point at which those individual tales 
collide in a natural conclusion before scattering 
again, forever changed. The idea that underpins 
Robinson's larger story is that our lives are in some 
way elliptical spirals, orbiting out on paths of 
discovery, always drawn back to a single core of 
catharis that in turn throws us onto new pathways. 




Surreal stick men, carrots, wine 
glasses and grinning potato chips 



The core is built on the essence of loss; of life and 
death, if you will. But Tr/c/cec/ is no hippy claptrap. 
Rather, it's an artfully chaotic Indierock Gen X tale 
with eloquent drawing that's creatively panelled. 
Similarly classy is D&Q's publication of Perfect 
Example, in which King Cat cartoonist John 
Porcellino records the episodic events of a summer 
between school and college. Often painfully honest, 
and with a spare, keen observational eye, Porcellino 
manages to encapsulate the delicious horror of 
adolescence. Through road trips, drunken concerts 



and late-night make-out sessions, these comics 
display an inherent understanding of the conflict 
between the magnificent newness of experience 
and the disabling bullshit of teenage life. There's 
a beautiful beatitude about much of Porcellino's 
workthat reminds you that the age he is writing 
about is one of such sweet melancholia; he 
understands the important difference between 
that and the one-dimensional, stereotypical black 
depression that is too often trotted out as being 
the troubled teenager's lot. Essential reading for 
anyone with a penchant for coming-of-age media. 

Ben, the central figure in Adrian Tomine's 
ongoing Optic Nerve (also from D&Q) may not 
be a teenager, but in Issue 1 he is most certainly 
troubled. Part two of a three-part story, this issue 
sees Ben fumble with the world of dating and 
attempt to deal with his obsession with young 
blonde, blue-eyed women. As ever with Tomine's 
work, it's difficult to decide how autobiographical 
this is, but it's a fair bet 
that this particular story 
arc is a means by which 
to explore his own 
thoughts on identity 
politics within 
contemporary USA. 

Over at Top Shelf, 
there's a new issue of 
James Kochalka's ace 
Superf*ckers. If you 
picked up the opening 
salvo then you'll no 
doubt be delighted to 
hear that Issue 273 has 
more of the same. 
Searching for sandwiches 
in Dimension Zero! 
Radical Randy in a coma! 
Everyone Loves Grotus! 
Hot new costumes! Vomit Rainbow! Jack Kraak 
goes Christian! More excessive cursing and general 
hanging out not doing very much ! What more could 
you possibly want from a comic? 

There's more Kochalka in the second issue of the 
Con\/ersat/ons mini-comics, in which his American 
Elf takes on the great Jeffrey Brown of Be A Man, 
Clumsy etc in a frame by frame philosophical 
discourse on the whys and wherefores of drawing 
and publishing comics. It quickly degenerates into a 
slapstick conflict between Brown's more analytical. 





self-reflective, rationalising approach and Kochalka's 
devil-may-care 'just live life!' abandon. Shit, vomit 
and mops are involved. . . 

Elsewhere from Top Shelf, their five-part 
Surrogates series is shaping up nicely. We're 
up to issue three of Robert Venditti and Brett 
Weldele's Sci-Fi Noir tale, and it's turning into 
a fine commentary that ties together contemporary 
American (and hence global) political, cultural and 
religious threads. Conflicts between fundamentalist 
religions and those embracing changes effected 
upon society by new technologies is arguably as 
old as the sci-fi genre itself, but Surrogates brings a 
deftness of touch and a willingness to tread the fine 
lines between the two intransigent extremes that 
is eminently engaging. In addition to Weldele's 
edgy storyboard style drawings there are some fine 




pin-ups in the latest two issues by the likes of Matt 
Kindt {Pistolwhip, Two Sisters), Jim Mahfood {40oz 
Comics) and my own favourite Steve Lieber (the 
classic Whiteout). Well worth tracking down. 

Worth tracking too is Claire Harmer's gleefully 
no-fi Claire's Idiots. Illustrating words taken from 
caravan games played out by her friends, this mini is 
full of surreal stick men, carrots, wine glasses and 
grinning potato chips. Insanely good, or just plain 
insane? Get a copy from www.afootbooks.com. 

If you've seen any of Dr Parson's work before 
you might be tempted to call him insane too, 
and with his newly self-published The Reality Of 
Cartooning he does nothing to make you doubt it. 
Another rabid collection of unfeasible rudeness is 
topped by the crude and hilarious Kate And Pete 
strip which itself culminates in another of Parson's 
trademark Hieronymus Bosch like tableaux. 

Check www.thisisdrparsons.com for details. 

planb|113 



false metal 

Words: Joe Stannard 

Illustration: French 

A pox upon irony-rock 




Early Man. Wolfmother. Bad Wizard. The Fucking 
Champs. The Abominable Iron Sloth. 

All of these bands constitute a casually wafted 
fart in the face of real metalheads, the kind of 
people who get excited about a new album by 
Mastodon or Unearthly Trance or Darkthrone, 
who post on the Southern Lord website forum, 
who attend the gigs and wear the T-shirts. 

Why? I'll tell you. 

^Look! We^ve put 
a dragon on our 
album cover !^ 

Because they derive from and appeal to 
a mentality that is only willing to swallow half 
the pill, to conceal their craving for riffs the size 
of mountains and screaming, sepulchral vokills 
under a wimple of irony. Because they take what 
they want from metal without giving anything 
back. Because they lack the sense of wonder 
necessary to properly appreciate or create anything 
genuinely heavy. And because they suck a big 
fat dick, musically speaking. 

114|pldnb 



False metal reeks of smirking, smartarse 
dilettantism: 'Look! We've put a dragon on our 
album cover! We're playing harmony lead guitar! 
We're ripping off an old Angel Witch riff! See what 
we did there? Har har har!' 

The reliance on these cheap signifiers indicates 
not a deep affection for the form but a complete 
lack of interest in it as anything but an easy target 
for derision. It tells metal fans that they are stupid 
to take this shit seriously while allowing the target 
audience of indie hipsters to feel that they are 
braving the swampy hinterlands of something 
'so uncool it's cool' without making even a token 
investment in the subculture, such as going 
buying something on Relapse, Roadrunner 
or Osmose. 

At a recent instore, one such band were heard 
to proclaim, "We've got newT-Shirts! Black metal 
ones! " Um, excuse me? 

The common misconception endures that metal 
fans are dumb and lack a sense of irony. But brace 
yourselves, because here's a fucking newsflash... 
We/cnowJudas Priest look silly! And we don't care! 
In fact, we like it! As for the music? Well, 'Painkiller', 
'Exciter' and 'Hell Bent For Leather' are full of camp 
humour and chutzpah and also kick ridiculous 



amounts of arse, therefore rendering any attempt 
at parody utterly futile. And you wanna know 
what's even more subversive than producing 
lukewarm parodies that are, in most cases, about 
twenty years out of date? Well, how about Priest 
vocalist Rob Halford being an openly homosexual 
man in a band that attracts a huge audience 
predominantly made up of straight, adolescent 
males? How about them apples? 

And don't give me any bollocks about these 
bands 'expanding' or 'redefining' the genre. 
Metal has been doing fine for years without 
snotty ex-mathrock Zappa-wannabes muscling 
in on the action and belatedly exchanging their Ian 
Mackaye pin-ups for tattered Venom posters they 
bought on eBay. Metal is constantly mutating on 
its own terms, sprouting fresh subdivisions year 
after year without fail, providing bands with careers 
that far exceed that of yer average indie band in 
terms of longevity and creativity. 

See, false metallers? We don't need you! 
No one does, apart from bespectacled twats 
who snort when they laugh and secretly wank 
over pictures of The Like. 

Go back to ripping off Shellac, you utter 
fuckwits. 



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pldnb|115 




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